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Ivy
IN THE CLEAR
(Nettwerk)

After spending the better part of the í90s bouncing from one major label to another without ever finding a comfortable commercial niche for their suave, melancholy pop confections, the NYC trio Ivy had a little new-wave fun recording an eclectic batch of covers for the indie Minty Fresh on 2002ís Guestroom. The disc opens with the Cureís cynical little love song "Letís Go to Bed," which they can afford to do in straightforward fashion thanks to the continental vibe of French-born singer Dominique Durand. It would seem guitarist/producer Andy Chase (Durandís husband) and bassist Adam Schlesinger (of Fountain of Wayne fame) liked what they were hearing because on In the Clear they go out of their way to frame her nonchalant vocals in Cure-like layers of synth chordings that mesh so tightly with the jangle-and-drone guitars that itís hard to pick any one instrument out of the mix. Think Head on the DoorĖera Robert Smith, with the occasional acoustic-guitar strum of a simple piano line popping up as a hook for Durand to hang her languid lyrics on. This isnít the Disintegration dance-mix Cure of the Rapture but a more refined neo-new wave thatís a natural fit for Ivy, who have always been more rooted in the new romantic pop of the í80s than in the angst-ridden aggression of the í90s. In "Nothing But the Sky," Durandís voice is so heavily reverbed, itís little more than a distant dreamy whisper. But as the band pick up the pace on the more upbeat "Thinking About You" (which sounds as if they had "In Between Days" in mind), the soft, sensual curves of her delivery come into sharper focus, and drawing on the Cure for inspiration begins to make a whole lot of sense for Ivy.

(Ivy headline this Tuesday, May 3, at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; call 617-228-6000.)

BY MATT ASHARE


Issue Date: April 29 - May 5, 2005
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