Make Out King and Other Stories of Love
★★★ (out of 5 stars)
This bright gem out of Houston is little-known right now, but possibly not for long since they’ve been road-dogging it (appearing here last summer on a Norse Korea bill) and turning heads at the hipper festivals. And, as a more focused and consistent crystallization of their signature brand of pop-smart indie rock and leading-lady presence, this fresh-faced album should help. Pulling from the deeper vocal waters of soul and jazz, Asli Omar’s assured, well-toned and alluringly plied voice is the track-stopping thing that makes the Tontons exceptional. When placed atop sparkling guitars, the result is honed, Euro-style pop that’s sophisticated, easy and breezy. Whether it’s up numbers like “Veida,” “Magic Hour” and “Bones 1” or cooing reverie like “Pony” and “So Tired,” Make Out King is a charming pleasure.