Human Television: Look at Who You're Talking To

Human Television
Look at Who You're Talking To
Gigantic Music

These young dream-pop dudes, based in both Brooklyn and Philadelphia à la Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, remember (or pretend to remember) an era when indie rock wasn't defined by wiry Wire guitars. The guitars on Look at Who You're Talking To, Human Television's debut full-length after a well-received 2004 EP, strum and shimmer, primed with tremolo and varnished with several coats of reverb. The sound isn't sloppy exactly, but it does function in opposition (willing or not) to the neat, orderly thrum of neo-garage stylists like the Strokes and Franz Ferdinand, in whose music you can hear the post-alt cunning of a generation in thrall to the marketplace it once abjured.

Human TV's disheveled jangle is not at all about cunning, which isn't to say that frontman Billy Downing isn't quite a little craftsman: Talking To, with its ringing echoes of forgotten twee-pop wimps like Velocity Girl and the Chills, sounds engineered to appeal to anyone who listened to lots of early-'90s college radio. But there's a self-effacing guilelessness to Downing's material that sets it apart from the passive-aggressive scenester-boy bullshit The O.C. has turned into a cottage industry. One example: He ends the CD's best tune, "Mars Red Dust," after only 93 seconds, while offering listeners the opportunity to e-mail him for a "really good demo version" of opener "I'm Moving On" that features a six-and-a-half-minute intro. What kind of business plan is that?