On and Running
On its latest release, the Boston electro duo Stereo Telescope carves out a space between gleefully glittering synths and melancholy vocals. It’s no easy feat making such cheerful-seeming instrumentation — Moogs, theremins, and vintage synths — sound so sad, but Kurt Schneider and Nikki Dessingue’s harmonized vocals provide an effective emotional push-and-pull. A song like “Geography,” with its 8-bit Nintendo riff and chiming bell sounds, takes on a different context with the weary delivery: “Let’s tear this city down and start all over again.” The best songs here are the least busy, where the vocal melodies are given room to breathe, as on “Draw Me a Sky,” another happy-being-sad exhalation, and “Holes,” an echoing R&B crooner filtered through layers of sound. “Fires,” the standout track, finds the duo taking turns on lead over a hand-clap beat and incessant synth riff gurgling under the surface before coming together in a triumphant harmony. Or is it a defeated one? It’s actually a bit of both at once. (Out now)
Stereo Telescope performs Friday night as part of The Pill at Great Scott.