While fans of Mount Kimbie won’t be disappointed by Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, it never quite reaches the transcendent peaks of their debut.

Mount Kimbie’s brilliant debut Crooks & Lovers helped define the ‘post-dubstep’ sound. While some American dubstep artists were competing for listeners’ attentions by seeing who could be the most aggressively irritating, artists like Mount Kimbie, Burial and James Blake were taking the music in much more intimate, melancholic directions. Warm organic sounds brushed up against conventional dubstep elements like stick’n’kick beats, finely diced vocal samples and rumbling bass; it was tender music that bled out from the speakers as sweet and slow as molasses.

Their new album refines that signature sound while effortlessly incorporating some new and unexpected influences. There’s a much more obvious post-rock influence, most notably on ‘Break Well’ in which a swelling build-up of ambient synth melodies suddenly morphs into a gorgeous burst of jangly guitar riffs and pounding drums.

Many songs on Cold Spring Fault Less Youth feature vocals. Kai Campos’s fragile voice adds another layer of yearning to tracks like the bittersweet R&B opener, ‘Home Recording’. And there are two collaborations with King Krule – a sullen kid who half sings/half raps in a slurred drawl that makes him sound like a belligerent drunk. His distinctive style’s not for everyone, but it suits Mount Kimbie’s foggy atmospherics.

Debut single ‘Made To Stray’ is the closest thing to a dance track here – a thumping house beat underpins a lush mix of skittering percussion, ambient noise, and richly textured organ chords. Like the best Mount Kimbie songs, it evokes a sense of ephemeral beauty, enveloping the listener in a sweet seductive haze for a few fleeting moments before disappearing back into the ether.

If there is one complaint about this album it’s that too many tracks are frustratingly short. Several good songs seem to end prematurely just as they’re on the cusp of turning into something great.

*** 1/2 out of five stars

BY ADAM BLACK

Cold Spring Fault Less Youth is out not on Inertia.

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