Initially forbidding, but with hidden avant-pop charms.
British-born, Berlin-based artist Janine Rostron seems on initial listen to weigh slightly too heavily upon her influences: even before she covers Arthur Russell's "Janine" near the album's end, the cellist-composer's signature mix of downtown New York art-music experimentalism and chilly dancefloor electronics is all over W. Similarly, Rostron's gender-bending vocal manipulations owe a debt to Laurie Anderson's pioneering work, not to mention contemporaries like The Knife (with whom Planningtorock collaborated on 2010's Tomorrow, In A Year) and Peaches. Yet what seems at first blush to sound somewhat derivative, overly cerebral and even deliberately abrasive quickly reveals itself to have unexpected pop suss: the engaging beats that underpin tracks like "I Am Your Man" and "Living It Out" explain why Rostron is signed to dancefloor-centric label DFA Records. Even the initially forbidding "Milky Blau" slowly coalesces into a surprisingly pretty melody that recalls Philip Glass's rock flirtations during the new wave era. Though it's not a particularly difficult record to wrap one's head around, W is also not really something to put on while doing the dishes. But those with the time and inclination to spend 51 focused minutes with the album will likely finding themselves returning to this ambitious and appealing work.