Pitchfork (Website) - "Deitz underlines the instability and wanderlust evoked by 'Sonreo', as tricky fills and pivots allow him to keep pace with a player piano having a nervous breakdown."
Lyricist: Judah Nagler.
Personnel: Judah Nagler (vocals, guitar, piano, synthesizer); Josh Staples (vocals, guitar); Casey Deitz (drums, percussion, tapes).
Audio Mixers: Steve Choi; The Velvet Teen.
Recording information: Bright Lights, Santa Ana; Bright Mountain, Kern; Hailestorm; Peter B. Allen's Studio, Santa Rosa.
Say what you will about the Velvet Teen, but they clearly aren't afraid to think big. In the nine years since 2006's Cum Laude, they seems to have carefully filed away every idea that struck their fancy, and they've poured all of them into 2015's All Is Illusory, an album that fairly bursts with grand-scale indie energy as tunes like "Eclipses" and "Pecos" pop like a string of fireworks with percolating rhythms and spunky washes of keyboards. But the Velvet Teen aren't hesitant about making use of dynamics, setting the propulsive, upbeat numbers against pieces like the spare, quiet guitar feature "Taken Over" or the mournful title track. All Is Illusory is a vast parade of different sounds and emotions, held in place by the busy but thoughtful drumming of Casey Dietz, who pushes the fast numbers forward with a muscular elan and punctuates the more measured pieces with small but precise rhythmic flourishes. From the swaggering charge of "GTRA" to the graceful romanticism of "Veil Between," All Is Illusory has enough thematic detours and offhand observations to resemble a Russian novel, and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Judah Nagler certainly seems up to the challenge of interpreting the many characters and moods conjured up in these songs (even using a Vocoder to bring added textures on "The Manifest"). Nagler, Dietz, and bassist/vocalist Josh Staples have clearly put a lot of thought and hard work into All Is Illusory, and the result is an album that's certainly worth a listen for fans of the group's widescreen indie pop. ~ Mark Deming