IT'S A WAFT of the voice you hear on many '80s 12-inch singles, the final resting place of the disco diva. It's Jocelyn Brown, Shannon, and Sylvia Striplin—sotto voce. It's spooky. And thanks to a compellingly artless reliance on echo and delay effects, it's omniscient, too, much like all good ghosts are. This is Alberta Poon, cut loose from all those Blonde Redhead comparisons she and her bandmates, Michael McKinnon and Daniel Grazzini, once attracted as Wet Confetti.
But I repeat: That band is over. Poon, McKinnon, and Grazzini now call themselves Reporter. It might not be a new group, but it is, as Poon says, "a new project," one whose chief distinction from the last is its ability to fill a dance floor. Which isn't to say this trio only recently learned how to have fun. It's just that, on Reporter's new full-length, Time Incredible, they've invited us into their circle.
So as I sit down with Poon and McKinnon in a downtown café, I have one question that will filter all the others. What's with the name change? "Nothing we do has a reason," Poon deadpans. McKinnon tries his best to help out. But this lapses into an improv game, a dialogue with Poon centering on the word "drugs." They laugh. I try to keep up. Meanwhile, the ice in my toddy melts.
At first I assume this is the typical image-protecting stonewall adopted by many bands, come peddling time. But the longer I spend with Reporter, the more difficult it becomes to imagine a band playbook for writing new music, let alone outmaneuvering the press. After our meeting, which felt more like an eavesdropping, I listen again to Time Incredible and hear it in a different context. This time? No '80s. And no '90s, for that matter. I don't even hear the general indie trend of the last five years toward distressed vintage electronics (though it's there).
Instead, what Time Incredible represents for these three friends is another of those subtle shifts in dynamics that happens in any clique. Their pleasure is ours.