Pictureplane, Dark Rift (Lovepump Unlimited)

New dimensions in refracted synth pop
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A fusion of gauzy pop, dark synths and kinetic early-'90s rave beats, Dark Riftconjures images of smudged eyeliner in the bright sunlight. Denver-based producer Travis Egedy lets his lost romantic lyrics run wild, washing in and out like Arthur Russell, while fat, woozy synths shake and roll.

"Goth Star" shines, a lazy anthem built around teen-movie synth progressions; cut-up vocals; and a Fleetwood Mac sample that sounds one beat off, like Stevie Nicks missed her cue without losing her cool. The rave sound effects at the outset of "Trance Doll" almost push the cartoonish envelope (but let's be honest: a lot of rave songs did) before the track hits a tempo speed bump, takes a luscious shoegazey detour and then amps up again. "5th Sun" throws down fragments of stabbing, satisfying piano chords and a curt, crunchy one-two stomp as Egedy's voice hides in quieter corners of the speakers. It creates a comfortable push-pull that's repeated often over the course of this billowy but rhythmic album.

Hitting a stasis point between escape with and within, Pictureplane smears together hazy pop and frenetic dance without sacrificing energy or melody. [4 out of 5 stars]