Frog Eyes

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      Tears of the Valedictorian (Scratch)

      If you close your eyes and drink enough, there are moments on the new Frog Eyes album where you can almost imagine you're listening to Arcade Fire. It's not that Frog Eyes has caught up to the times with its latest release, but the other way around–perhaps the influence of the symphonic pomp on the Victoria band's early discs seeped into the Montreal act. Personally, I'm of two minds when it comes to Frog Eyes, one of a handful of B.C. acts that are recognized by the indie-rock cognoscenti (Pitchfork and that ilk). On one hand, I find the group's sound prickly and claustrophobic, with too much going on at any one time. Carey Mercer's strangled vocals, meanwhile, are not so much an acquired taste as one that has to be force-fed. Then again, Frog Eyes has the cojones to make experimental, fucked-up music that cares not a whit for recognizable melodies, pleasant textures, or orthodox arrangements. (And never mind the lyrics, which are from a whole other dimension.) Secretly I've hoped one day the band would fuse its forays into fantastical realms with something I'd want to sing in the shower, but Tears of the Valedictorian is as obtuse and determinedly awry as previous records. The outfit's fifth full-length release, it simply shows Frog Eyes is better than ever at being Frog Eyes, which fans will love. All others: approach with extreme caution.