Radiation City’s Feast of Retro Pop

Radiation City

Courtesy of Polyvinyl Records

Drawing on from ’60s easy listening and ’70s dance grooves, among a host of other sources, the third album from Radiation City offers a feast of attractive pop that sounds great in the background—kudos to John Vanderslice’s shiny production—but also holds up under closer scrutiny. Like spiritual and stylistic cousins the Bird and the Bee, minus the sardonic undertone, the Portland, Oregon combo uses retro as a ruse, with poised singer Lizzy Ellison gently suggesting a melancholy heart full of desire and regret. For all its breezy allure and obvious echoes, from Paul McCartney (“Juicy”) to bossa nova (“Separate”) to James Bond themes (“Butter”), Synesthetica is subtly original and quietly powerful work.