With his fourth LP and second release on Sub Pop, Kelley Stoltz is often surrounded by the “fi” words: low, mid and hi His latest Circular Sounds is a departure from the lo and mid-fi’s of his first three releases and explores the sonic rich production of hi-fi.
Recorded at Stoltz’ home studio, Circular Sounds kicks off with the horn-accented pop of “Everything Begins, while “Tintinnabulation “sounds like an Elliott Smith dead-ringer, and “ The Birmingham Eccentric” involves Stoltz’ “plank-plank” piano beats. The delicate “Gardenia” mimics Nick Drake, while the record’s first single “Your Reverie” pipes in with 60’s psychedelic nods.
Circular Sounds is strong in its diversity from “To Speak To The Girl,” which habitats a crafty rock and roll edge, reminiscent of The Kinks and “When You Forget” is as strong a pop song released this year. Stoltz bounces from piano ballads to country and folk within these14 songs, but Circular Sounds often begs for some cohesiveness.
Appearing from the results, consistency wasn’t in the Circular Sounds plan here, rather than to make a classic pop record with some obvious references rock’s past.