Let me tell you about my dad. He's a farmer in a small town in Nebraska, where I grew up, and while in many ways he conforms to rural Midwestern stereotypes—no-nonsense, hard-working, libertarian—in musical taste, he's completely off the map. I'll get him some CDs for birthdays or whatever, and it's been both amusing and heartening to see what makes his "playlist." Let's just say there is no bigger Coldplay or Zero 7 fan in the whole Central Time Zone than my dad. This is a guy who wears the Coldplay T-shirt I got him to church (much to the amusement of our young pastor), and wore out his copy of Zero 7's Simple Things so badly I had to get him a new one. So now I'm always on the lookout for good stuff my dad might like: not too crazy, soulful, maybe with some piano. UK's Stateless will be the next CD I grab for him, and I think he'll like about 2/3 of it.
Hailing from Leeds, England, Stateless fit into the Mo' Wax/DJ Shadow trip-hop world, but with the spirit of Radiohead, if not the grandiosity. I included the Portishead-reminscent "Inscape" in my Top Ten back in June, and that track's chilly, underwater feel only offers a glimpse of the variety on their self-titled album on K7. New single "Bloodstream" (featuring Lateef the Truthseeker) leads off with a simple piano melody, then adds a jazzy beat, but lead singer Chris James takes the spotlight with a voice that's both emotive and restrained: "I think I might have inhaled you/I can feel you behind my eyes," he sings, in as straightforward a definition of "lovesick" as you'll hear. Tracks like "Bloodstream" and "Down Here," with their hypnotic piano refrains, will be my dad's favorites, but "Radiokiller," with its syncopated dance beat and electronic flourishes, proves they're not worried about alienating the AARP set, and "Crash" echoes Boards of Canada's vaguely menacing minimalism. While I'm not a lyrics guy, some lines do seem to revert to cliché, and not every melody line is as inspiringly fresh as "Bloodstream." But overall, it's a highly enjoyable debut. I'll let you know what Dad says.
Listen to the whole album (after providing your e-mail address) at the elaborate K7 home page, or at their MySpace, or grab a couple mp3s on the blogs: MonoCrave features "Bloodstream" and "Blue Trace," and Cellmates hosts "Radiokiller." Of course you can pay for the album at iTunes. Video for a live performance of "Bloodstream" after the jump.