The songs on Deleted Scenes' newest LP, Young People's Church of the Air, sound distant—not emotionally distant or far away in time, but literally distant from the devices that recorded them. Whether the DC quartet did it with some combination of distortion and reverb or with exceedingly skillful mic-ing is a question for production dorks. The result is evocative, adding that element of pathos that makes songs into soundscapes. It makes tracks like "A Litany for Mrs. T" and "Bedbedbedbedbed" sound remembered the first time you hear them, as if you were listening across a frozen plain.
Except for the bass—the bass is right up front, insisting on itself along with the occasional clear drum hit. It forces the soundscapes back into songs, and this tension turns out to describe the album. Somewhere between "Burglarizing the Deaf" and "Baltika 9," YPCotA becomes more recognizably rocklike, even poppy. The songs get less striking, but they also become a lot more fun, veering away from Arcade Fire and toward Duran Duran. That's a good thing. We can't all be arcane soundsmiths, which tempts those of us who can to forget that maybe we shouldn't be.
Deleted Scenes plays The Badlander Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 9 PM with A Lull and locals Sick Kids XOXO. $8/$5 advance plus fees at Ear Candy.