San Francisco never ceases to throw the pop gauntlet. Whether its jangle-pop, garage sneer, or something less brittle, the town’s weathering their seismic changes, at least in the music sector. The sophomore LP from Latitude works its way into the bloodstream more easily than some of their adjacent compatriots. With a release on Emotional Response, the LP wraps a waft of jangle around ‘80s synth-pop and ‘70s disco hangover. Amy Fowler’s vocals have drawn some larger than life comparisons — with her deep, imploring delivery falling between Stevie and Debbie, though for me it lands in even company with indie mainstay Meredith Metcalf (Music Go Music, Bodies of Water). The songs on Mystic Hotline explore some similar territory with MGM, mopping up the post-disco hangover that the band found so verdant and marrying it with a bit of a post-punk vibrancy that’s rubbery, but rife with the thick, neon glint of keys.
There’s a bucolic restlessness to the album, lounged, yet dreaming of a more conflicted life. The album’s perch between post-punk’s urgency and new wave’s radiant smear gives the album a light tension. The band clearly wants to push towards the rhythmic pulse and angular angst, but they’re not quite as lean and hungry as the genre requires and as such they bleed over into the smudged romanticism of the New Wave queens quite often. The urge to dance is always bubbling below the surface, if not overtly taking the reigns and the thrum snaps Latitude out of complacency. While the band would love to languish in the shadows it’s hard to resist the pull of a propulsive beat and the heat of bodies near one another in thrall to the pulse. The band’s at their best, though, when the slightly nerdy needs of ‘80s pop take over and the synths skew towards arpeggiation and the neon glow squiggles into a discordant shimmy. There’s a gloss here that’s hard to shake, but when the band lets their makeup fade, they’re found out for the endearing pop academics they are.
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