On this, their second album, London shoe-gazers Still Corners sharpen their focus and double-up on synths as they move toward a sound that’s fully electronic. If their debut drew on the sultry jazz-pop of the ’60s, ‘Strange Pleasures’ jumps two decades ahead, aligning itself quite forcefully with the digital excesses of the 1980s. The result is a record that sits somewhere between the Cocteau Twins and OMD, marrying breathy vocals with sugar-coated synthpop hooks. However, several gems aside, Tessa Murray’s throwaway coquettish refrains become tiring; seeming to lack any tangible meaning, while the melodies and rhythms begin to bleed into one another. Yet the real problem is that it just feels too self-conscious. It’s so impossible to dodge the signposts of ‘Strange Pleasures’’s stylistic indebtedness that it comes off as forced, referential and, ultimately, empty.

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