Like legendary shoegazing post-rockers Hum, Berry hails from the middle of Illinois (Greenville, specifically) and makes expansive songs that, at their best, sound bigger than the sum of their parts. On the six-song EP Empathy (which follows last year's full-length, Marriage), the quartet adds some muscle and grit to its fractured brand of dream-pop. Many of these songs toy with time signatures and employ stuttering rhythms, and the band never shies away from a chance to utterly destroy a song's structure. Lyrically, several of these songs toe the line between sexual attraction and repulsion: "$22.50/Hour" sings of a "second-hand part-time lover" (take that, Stevie Wonder!), while the next track, "Dirty," sounds like a filthy after-hours seduction on a bed of guitar squalls.
The musicians in Berry know how to wrestle rickety distortion from their guitars, but they often use keyboards as a stabilizing force. The barroom piano that holds down "Courtney Luv" adds an almost classic-pop feel to the song's multiple movements, while the final track, "Frantic Fly," is a culmination of Berry's best traits: fat piano chords bookend the track, a mini organ fugue sneaks its way into the bridge, and the tempo is steady enough for singer Joey Lemon to build momentum and shoot for the stars on a vapor trail of fuzzy feedback.
Berry's EP-release show will take place at the Underground at the Red Sea (6511 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-863-0099) on Saturday, April 21, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6.