★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
Press for Landlady’s second album, Upright Behavior, trumpets frontman Adam Schatz’s collaborative work with Man Man and Vampire Weekend. Yet the references are useless in the face of such an awe-inspiring record. Filing it under art-rock feels even more derivative, since songs like “Dying Day” sound so emotionally intuitive. And sure, the herky-jerky rhythms of TV on the Radio and Dirty Projectors are accurate jumping-off points for kitchen-sink tracks like “Maria” and “Under the Yard” – yet even those excellent bands lack Landlady’s gut-punch abilities. Perhaps it’s Schatz’s work as a jazz promoter and improvisational impresario, but Upright Behavior crashes through genre barriers so effortlessly it feels disconcerting. “Fine” mixes Morricone mysteriousness with electro-pop flair, while “Washington State Is Important” kicks up its Randy Newman-inspired feet for a smirking rumination on blue-collar life. Yet it’s the orchestrated uplift of “The Globe” that speaks to Landlady’s full potential: naked lyrical honesty, swelling strings, epic drums, guitars that never lose their harmonic luster. If you like edgy yet eminently enjoyable music, Upright Behavior should be your new favorite album.