Matthew Dear's fifth album under his own name, Beams, is a woozy rifling through preexisting musical styles, and the combinations that emerge make for an unsettling listening experience. It acts like upbeat pop music, but Dear is always subverting his setups — with weird interjections, with contrasting rhythms, with his own vocals that speak of indecipherable commands in a cartoonishly low voice that saunters with a twang-free, country swagger. He sounds like what Madonna wished her Music-era cowboy at made her look like, a loner and individual in this world of pulsing electronics. He never sounds lost, though, and in fact, seems more confident than ever, a mirthful ringleader appropriating sounds because that's how genres are made in the endless chain of dance music. His singular offshoot is a doozy — this sounds like everything, but nothing sounds like it.
Listen to my favorite of Beams's offerings, the discoid "Up & Out" at its Soundcloud page.