Local Wire

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's

From the music to their name, there's an unmistakable precociousness at play with Margot & the Nuclear So & So's — perhaps not surprising given the moniker was inspired by The Royal Tenenbaums. Certainly don't hold it against singer/guitarist Richard Edwards and his seven compatriots, who manage to thread the needle between the Arcade Fire's vibrant, unpredictable art rock and the navel-gazing tweeness typically associated with K Records. The Indianapolis octet's debut, The Dust of Retreat, balances careening, string- and horn-fueled arrangements with sweet, melodious broken-hearted odes, lightened by a bit of playfulness, as on "Paper Kitten Nightmare," where Edwards meows the chorus like an old Meow Mix commercial. Unlike many chamber pop-oriented acts, Margot rock convincingly ("Barfight Revolution, Power Violence") despite their preference for ringing, folk-tinged melodies. Edwards' breathy tenor drifts through the music with the melancholy downcast air of '80s New Wave romantics: "I am alive and that is the best that I can do," Edwards sings at one point, before complaining, "My love is dressing me like a clown." The shambling, meandering pace contributes to the homey sound, which, while not lo-fi, is decidedly unfussy for something so orchestrated. Their signing to a major (Epic releases their followup, Animal, in July) offers further evidence of their idiosyncratic charms.