Craft Spells, ‘Nausea’

When Justin Vallesteros first appeared in 2011 with “Idle Labor,” his debut as Craft Spells, he joined a wave of young bands (like Beach Fossils, Small Black, and MINKS) already reviving a strand of indie-pop that would seamlessly fit into any “college rock” mixtape from 25 years prior. With its rough edges and limited (largely synthetic) palette, “Labor” was conveniently on trend; but the young Californian’s knack for balancing moody melancholy with youthful exuberance made him stand out from the pack. On “Nausea,” he’s added some pomp and polish to the proceedings: strings, pianos, and acoustic guitars thicken and vivify the sound. Were it not for his enduring, endearing anxieties, you might even call it “confident.” But despite the deluxe treatments, the tracks on “Nausea” tend to blend into a blur, and their richness sometimes seems at odds with Vallesteros’s maudlin charms. Fans of “Labor” may be left wondering if beige is really a step up from gray. (Out Tuesday )



Craft Spells plays Brighton Music Hall June 23.

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