One of the centuries-old struggles in art has been maintaining the proper balance between inspiration and duplication. There have always been shades of Bergman in Woody Allen, for example, but no one would ever confuse Persona with Annie Hall. In the case of the Estonian outfit Pia Fraus, it's nakedly--almost embarrassingly--obvious that the group owes a great debt to My Bloody Valentine. It's not a vague, glancing reference point, either. If an enterprising college DJ were to attempt to pass off any given song from In Solarium as the eternally delayed new Valentine single, they'd likely meet with little challenge. But paradoxically, this is not a condemnation--because In Solarium is marvelous. It's woozy as a hangover, the dual vocals of Kristel Loide and Rein Fuks pouring like syrup over charging guitars and whistling keyboards. It's loose and jubilant as springtime, violently happy and crammed with the sound of 100 guitars on overdrive. And for every urge to condemn there is another, stronger urge to keep playing the record over and over again. Pia Fraus may be little more than cultural shoplifters, but their brazenness is ultimately their most winning characteristic. B+
Time for a big Bang breakthrough?