On their first album, these Minneapolis bar-banders play cagey, roughed-up Anglo-pop with popping bass, manifold rhythms, literate lyrics and a vaguely resigned tone that colors the proceedings a darker, more adult hue than the style generally dictates. Although full of obvious invention and skill, it’s an inconclusive debut that suggests more than it delivers.
On Blind Impulse — dropping one guitarist to become a quartet — the Phones grow more artistic and oblique while still maintaining a rootsy sound via powerful rock guitar. In spots, they resemble erstwhile labelmates the Suburbs; elsewhere, a synth-flecked funk feel creeps in to further complicate matters. The panoply of styles on this worthwhile album results in a bit of confusion that still needs to be focused. (A strong producer might be the ticket.)