Test tube pop

The Blow find the perfect musical mixture on the duo’s latest album.

Haily Gostas

After a handful of years tending to various test tubes under the Blow moniker, Portland pop chemist Khaela Maricich has finally mixed the perfect formula.

Her 2002 debut “Bonus Album” found Maricich crooning childlike a cappella anthems about the moon and melting chocolate hearts with friends like Mirah and the Microphones’ Phil Elverum. “Everyday Examples of Humans Facing Straight Into the Blow,” released in 2005, was a delicate, hushed record of fragile guitar and voice. Limited-edition EP “Poor Aim: Love Songs” expanded on the subtle electro-beeps of 2003’s “The Concussive Caress,” but never had room to soar high enough in its brief seven songs.

“Paper Television,” the Blow’s fifth release on the legendary indie label K Records, seeks and somehow finds a dazzling middle ground between Maricich’s swirling spectrum of past sounds, and this time has plenty of space to seduce.

Joined once again by versatile beat master Jona Bechtolt, Maricich uses “Paper Television” to fuse the gap between obscure folk pop and spastic mainstream club jams with smart, seamless results.

Each of the album’s ten tracks follows the essential pop formula: affable, adorable, two-and-a-half-minute tunes, catchy enough to memorize after the first or second listen.

From the hypersexual scuzz of the opener, “Pile of Gold,” to the droning robot of unrequited love on the closing cut “True Affection,” “Paper Television” comes packaged for all sorts of parties.

It is a record as comfortable spinning on a DJ’s turntable as it is inhabiting the headphones of some preteen’s bejeweled iPod. And it’s as much the soundtrack to basement makeouts as it is to basement dance parties.

The Blow
ALBUM: “Paper Television”
LABEL: K Records

The soda fountain doo-wop swing of “Parentheses” is one of “Paper Television’s” shining moments, a charming track of lovers who form punctuation marks when they touch and make each other cry in the grocery store.

Songs like “The Long List of Girls” add to “Paper Television’s” scattered palette of influences. Meant to boast the Blow’s shameless love for done-wrong R&B ballads, “Girls” lets Maricich take her intimate whisper up to a Beyoncé-brand growl over spacey drum-line loops.

Ultimately, the Blow’s strengths lie in their enthusiastic juxtaposition and unabashed adoration for all things pop. With its willingness to invite a variety of seemingly unrelated genres to party together under one roof, “Paper Television” is one mighty successful science experiment.