Aural Pleasure Review: Marcus Rubio's 'Land of Disenfranchisement'

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Marcus Rubio | Land of Disenfranchisement  | Already Dead  | ****

SA native Marcus Rubio has long drawn a pretty clear line between his pop and experimental output, though he’s increasingly found ways to blend the two into something greater than the sum of their parts. He managed to nail this balance on 2012’s Hello Dallas, and despite leaning heavier towards the experimental side this time around, he’s largely hit the sweet spot again with Land of Disenfranchisement. Unlike Dallas, which acted as a swan song for his backing band the Gospel Choir of Pillows, Disenfranchisement is fully a bedroom project: weird, carefully crafted and gleefully indulgent. A multi-instrumentalist of obscene talent, Rubio embraces that indulgence, resulting in some wonderfully off-the-wall arrangements, particularly on the masterfully layered “Burning Castles” and the Hannah Campbell-sung bubblegum sendup “Alone in the Flood.” He also overdoes it on a handful of tracks that likely could have stayed in the bedroom, including a spastic re-working of GCoP’s standby “Brodayte Weekaend 2k10” and the Auto-Tune fuck-around “The Reason Young People Use Drugs.” That said, it’s the experimental side of Rubio’s catalog that informs Disenfranchisement’s best moments. From 2013’s h_h onward, Rubio has been a master of drone textures, and he’s bookended this record with two of his lushest pieces yet in the purring synths of opener “Evangelical Geography” and the beautifully cloaked folk of the title track.

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