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Pop auteur Daniel Romano continues his shift from honky-tonk to fizzy pop-psychedelia with Modern Pressure

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Over the last couple of years Daniel Romano, a fickle but talented singer-songwriter from Welland, Ontario, has seemed to detach from his early infatuation with country music, an ardor that led him to race from honky-tonk to psychedelic countrypolitan over a pair of albums. Romano’s melodic wooziness remains intact on his new Modern Pressure (New West), but with his move from the sound of Nashville to that of Los Angeles he’s created a detail-rich studio concoction marked by shifting, kaleidoscopic arrangements that cushion his sweet, slightly hyperactive, helium-sucking voice with impressive authority and style. The title track gets its juice from a muscular bass line that would do Paul McCartney proud, while “Roya”—described by the singer as “a celebration of women”—conveys an uplift of spirit right through to its unexpected sitar-driven coda, which seems ready to launch into the Beatles’ “Love You Too.” Elsewhere “The Pride of Queens” pays homage to the Ramones as crunching power chords blast in to wipe out the track’s initial hints of rusticity reminiscent of The Basement Tapes. Romano is a master of bricolage, piecing together disparate sounds from psych-rock’s past—whether backwards-tape experiments or trippy harmony singing—with a thoroughly modern sound and a load of pop hooks. His chameleonic transformations sometimes feel annoying, but when the melodies hit hard I’m willing to cut him slack.   v

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