Just a year after winning one of three spots on Vinyl Records, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s upstart, student-run label, Lake Inferior is now the sole survivor of Vinyl’s first three signees. On Pegasaur, the 10″ vinyl follow-up to the quintet’s promising debut EP, Lake Inferior excises the proggy, guitar-heavy rock of its self-titled debut in favor of lush, synthesizer-heavy indie dance pop. Gone are the pounded drums and shifty, horn-backed breakdowns; in are airtight programmed beats and four calculated if still adventurous song structures. Rapid-fire rhythms and falsetto vocals usher in the album on the dreamy “Addressing Parents,” shaped by a hypnotic repeated guitar riff and stacks of harmonies. Handclaps and vibes drive the Technicolor standout “Gepeddo,” chockablock with chipper, singsong doo-wops and synth blips. Side two opener “Johnny B” trips on keyboard overdoses and otherworldly haze, while hyperactive pop tune “Wall Song” explodes into a swirl of synth, harmonies and chiming guitars.
For all its instrumental gloss, Pegasaur doesn’t quite achieve the pop success for which it aims: Hooks are fleeting and fail to materialize, even after repeated listens, while the lyrics are largely inconsequential. But, as their first EP hinted, Lake Inferior crafts tunes with imagination, adding an off-center approach to songs that just miss their mark.
Lake Inferior celebrates the release of Pegasaur Thursday, Nov. 12, at Local 506. Admission is $7 and includes a copy of the 10″. The Honored Guests and Gift Horse open at 9 p.m.