James and Evander — Constellating EP + 2

In its stead, I’ve sought out other gentle electronica projects in hopes of filling my Gibbard/Tamborello-shaped hole. Most acts fall short by appropriating the sound, but not writing great pop songs to match.

Enter James and Evander. On the surface, it seems to be everything I want in a Postal Service replacement: two dudes churning out gentle electronica with an emphasis on actual songwriting. They even have sweet art for their release, “Constellating EP + 2.”

It holds up under further scrutiny as well, because James and Evander don’t seek to be a Postal Service copycat. I’d be fine if every one of the five tunes here had TPS’ clicking percussion and pulsing keys, as the title track and opener do. But the duo projects much hope for the future by using that undeniable influence as a jumping-off point and not a crutch.

“Slap Bracelets” proves this by roping in ’80s influences and synthesizing them with their calm vocals and beats. Instrumental “Really Real” shows they have some boom-bap hip-hop influences, as well as some genial ‘70s rock influences (Blues Traveler?). It’s pretty cool and very unexpected.

Two remixes make up the “+ 2” bit. Ander’s take on “Constellating” is chillwave with a bit of woozy dubsteb bass, while the shortcircles’ remix of “Slap Bracelets” is spaced out and terrible until the pulse comes in about halfway through. I prefer James and Evander’s vision of their own work.

This all-too-short EP shows great promise. I will be following the duo’s future offerings with interest ... even if The Postal Service never releases its sophomore effort. —Stephen Carradini

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