Fridge The Sun

[Temporary Residence; 2007]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: trip-hop, instrumental rock, jazz-rock
Others: Four Tet, Caribou, Do Make Say Think

Maybe I’m alone on this, but I find London-based Fridge and the trio’s individual one-offs remarkably sleep-inducing. Something about Fridge, Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet project, and Adem Ilhan’s acoustic records (released under his first name) just makes me nod off. But it’s not a bad thing -- really. Four Tet’s Rounds and Adem’s Love and Other Planets are both lovely records, and their “main” gig, Fridge, follows suit with a comeback album of sorts, The Sun, their first since 2001’s Happiness.

At first, The Sun sounds very much like a Four Tet record, with a shimmery, organic mix of live drumming and squiggly, trippy instrumentation taking the place of melody through the first couple cuts. “Our Place in This,” while wordless, is the closest thing on The Sun to Adem’s folksy solo work, but “Eyelids” opens the album’s strong second half with its first recognizable melody, a jagged, mathy guitar riff that’d sound at home on Battles’ most recent record.

“Eyelids” is something of feint, however, as The Sun’s final five songs are softer than its beginning set. The record is rare in that it’s both cohesive and dynamic, especially in its second half. “Comets” is the only song to use an overtly electronic backbeat, and it builds nicely in texture as it progresses, adding flourishes of synthesizer and piano; “Insects” is built around a flute. The true gems of the record (and, ironically, the ones that send me most quickly to sleep) are its final two: “Lost Time” and “Years and Years and Years,” both heartbreakingly beautiful, cascading pieces that really give The Sun its staying power.

It’s fair to say that Fridge occasionally seem to be treading water, evoking “nice” rather than “interesting,” especially at this album’s outset, but like some of their peers’ (Tortoise, Do Make Say Think) finest work, the depth and craft in these songs keep The Sun interesting and make its inspired moments that much better. Just try to keep those eyes open.

Most Read