Electrelane | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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On their first three albums, this English quartet made a virtue of creative sprawl, but as impressed as I was by their experiments with texture and rhythm on 2005's Axes, I'm glad they've taken a more focused approach on the new No Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure). On Axes they sometimes sounded like they'd bitten off more than they could chew; here each member sticks to what she does best, and it gives the trance-inducing pop tunes a new directness and clarity. Drummer Emma Gaze takes what's essentially a single post-Motorik groove and tweaks it into 11 minor variations. Guitarists Verity Susman and Mia Clarke reduce the minimalist strum frenzies of the Velvet Underground and the Feelies even further, transforming scrappy little departures and choppy transitions into songs, and bassist Ros Murray quietly holds it all together. Susman sings her pretty melodies much the same way she plays--a bit sheepishly and anemically--but her style suits the pared-down songs perfectly. Sterling opens. Electrelane also opens for the Arcade Fire at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday and Sunday; see separate Treatment items for details. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

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