At their best, the Aluminum Group
craft gorgeously lush and airy chamber-pop on a par with the finest the genre has to offer; at their worst, they sound like a second-rate Magnetic Fields
, with vocals eerily like the coffin-creaking of Stephen Merritt
but without the biting lyrical wit or the uncanny melodic sophistication. Fortunately, the Aluminums' strengths typically win out on Plano
-- for every misstep like the terribly-derivative synth-pop of "Angel on a Trampoline," there's a melancholy gem like the opening "Chocolates," "The Mattachine Society" or "Star Wish" which verges on absolute perfection. Also like the Magnetic Fields
, the songs of the Navin brothers frequently portray a frank and unsentimental homoerotic worldview, but ultimately the record is much less about sexuality than it is universal emotional truths -- expertly produced by Dave Trumfio, Plano
, for all of its flaws, resonates with a timeless and heartbreaking beauty.