Hello, Blue Roses's WZO serenely shimmers

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      Hello, Blue Roses
      WZO (JAZ)

      Dan Bejar is beloved as a singer and songwriter, having achieved indie stardom as one of the core members of local power-pop collective the New Pornographers and the mastermind of his own band, Destroyer. With Hello, Blue Roses, on the other hand, he plays a supporting role, with lead vocal duties on the sophomore album, WZO, handled by his romantic partner, Sydney Hermant.

      As a bandleader, Hermant isn’t quite as compelling as Bejar, since she doesn’t have enough vocal power to effectively pull off her Kate Bush–style warble. WZO’s lyrics are intriguingly cryptic, although “Telepathy” is marred by a clunky description of dropping a phone into a canal while swatting a mosquito.

      The real treat here is the album’s ornate arrangements, which gorgeously mix folksy acoustic strums with lush electronic textures. Opener “Amulet” is particularly beautiful, as Hermant’s quiet balladry is fleshed out with simmering fuzz and twinkling daydream synths.

      Elsewhere, Bejar provides some ear-grabbing backing vocals to second-half highlights “Wading Pools” and “Ghosts”, while “Speak to Me” closes the collection with a serene shimmer. These soundscapes benefit from contributors like Carey Mercer (of Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach) and Joshua Wells (of Black Mountain), who help to give each of the 10 tracks a unique sonic character.

      Many listeners will doubtless regard WZO as a footnote in Bejar’s esteemed career, but for those who’ve been anticipating a new Destroyer album—there’s one in the works, incidentally—this should help tide you over.