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Luminous Crush, 'Incandescent'

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Luminous Crush, Incandescent - COURTESY
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(Self-released, CD, digital)

Vibrant, whimsical and at times a bit silly, Luminous Crush's most recent album, Incandescent, is an upbeat romp. Its 13 tracks zigzag through nearly as many genres: "bluegrass, outlaw country, post-punk, psychedelic fusion, indie, dream pop, searing rock, metal and whatnot," according to the Jamaica, Vt., duo's Bandcamp page. Band members Ben Campbell and Laura Molinelli expertly hybridize these styles and more. They create a striking mood across their catalog of recordings.

The cover art of Luminous Crush's previous album captured their sound well, spelling out the title, Luminous Inc., on a Lite-Brite. With songs that are playful, glossy and a little futuristic, Incandescent would also be well served by a Lite-Brite cover design — though the colorful paper cutouts in the digital version of its album art similarly prime listeners for an effervescent ear party.

It's difficult to discern Incandescent's through line, but a few themes are evident. Nature and spirituality are two, one of which emerges on the heavenly "Every Tree."

In some ways, the song harks back to the peace-and-love, naturalistic vibes of late '60s psychedelic rock. "Every tree knows exactly where it's been / Every tree knows exactly where it's going," Campbell and Molinelli sing in harmony. Their voices are the track's prime instruments, though guest musician Alex Reiser's pedal steel amplifies the song's hazy atmosphere.

"Blind Side Duster" introduces some of the aforementioned outlaw country with its lightly haunted acoustic guitar riff. Repeated calls to a goddess and talk of planting seeds in a garden connect the dots between this cut and the preceding "Every Tree." Similar themes of goodwill appear on the following track, "Umoja," the Swahili word for unity. Synths twinkle in an upward trajectory like falling stars in reverse, punctuated by a pitter-patter of programmed drums and vocal percussion.

Then there are the almost-head-scratchingly zany cuts such as "Krazy Kars." A fried-out, down-tempo electro-pop song with fuzzy bass and kicky beats, it features Campbell and Molinelli asking, "Has anyone seen my car keys / Crazy, crazy car keys" on repeat. The song's mood is serious, yet its hook is almost like something from a novelty song.

The record's catchiest tune arrives toward the end. "Ghosts in the Homestead" is power-pop perfection. Reminiscent of early 2000s indie-rock instrumentation by the New Pornographers and Bloc Party, the track's guitars blare in overdriven surges atop punchy beats. By contrast, Campbell and Molinelli's vocals are smooth, slowly shifting through an unhurried melody amid the sonic chaos.

On Incandescent, Luminous Crush live up to their name: They dazzle with brightly appointed music, and they're easy to love.

Incandescent is available at luminouscrush.bandcamp.com.

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