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CD Reviews: The Pastels' 'Slow Summits' -- 3 stars

"Slow Summits"

"Slow Summits" Credit: "Slow Summits"

‘Slow Summits’
The Pastels
3 stars

The first album in 16 years from the Glaswegian twee-pop icons has the rosy-gold feel of a late summer afternoon, with a chill chasing the fading day, and a night full of possibilities yet to come. A mix of pensive ballads, such as the immaculately arranged “Kicking Leaves,” and unexpectedly buoyant numbers like the breakaway single “Check My Heart,” the album’s many moods share a template of dry, precise percussion and lush horn arrangements that envelop and lift the cool, jangling guitars (aided by ace producer John McEntire of the Sea & Cake). Katrina Mitchell’s breezy vocals are their best asset (as on “Heart”), though Stephen Pastel’s affected murmur often provides welcome contrast, and the title track — a gorgeous instrumental vista of flutes and bloops that sound like Grandaddy meets Ennio Morricone — needs no vocals at all to win the listener over completely.

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