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Album review: Pumarosa’s ‘Witch Craft’ marks a promising debut

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Three and a half stars

Pumarosa The Witch

A hum, a repeating three-note bassline and the echoing incantation of singer Isabel Munoz-Newsome starts “Priestess,” one of the pre-release singles—and centerpiece song—of Pumarosa’s debut album, The Witch. It’s minimal enough to draw your focus, which is maintained as the band masterfully spends the next seven minutes building every element until the post-punk meditation blossoms into a Balearic dancefloor anthem, horn section and all. Not for nothing has the song been repeatedly remixed.

This climactic approach is the closest thing to a formula for the London quintet, which excels in compositional payoffs while also working from a musical toolbox big enough to belie its major-label association. Many of the Generation X touchstones of European music surface on The Witch, culling from rock and dance music almost equally. The acoustic warm up of “Barefoot” gives way to a 4/4 beat, an energizing breakaway that carries the rest of the song. Closer “Snake” sustains its own Krautrockian pulse for more than six minutes until its atmospheric comedown. Not all the numbers on The Witch resonate equally, and some of them hew a little closely to their inspirations: Kate Bush (the title track), Radiohead (“Lions’ Den”) or mid-era Cure (“My Gruesome Loving Friend”). But its entrancing narratives and meticulous craftsmanship still grant Pumarosa discovery status.

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  • With a solidified new lineup and a memorable new record, now is the time to catch Chris Crisci and company.

  • His new band opens up for one of his original idols, Howard Jones, at the Cannery on July 13.

  • The band will celebrate its new sound with a joint release party with local blues-rock outfit Damaris, July 12 at 172 inside the Rio.

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