PARKER AND LILY

"Here Comes Winter"

Manifesto

MATT POND PA

"The Green Fury"

Polyvinyl

Most of Parker and Lily's "Here Comes Winter" is as frosty as its title promises. This New York electro-lull duo favors glacial tempos, watery tones and sustained notes -- sometimes for their own sake, sometimes in the service of wispy songlets. Yet Parker Noon and Lily Wolfe (both formerly of Valentine Six) periodically follow their taste for spacey retro-lounge music in goofy directions.

The album features such ethereal tunes as "Snow Day" and "You Are My Matinee," interspersed with instrumental fragments that seem to take their stride from "Sleep Walk," Santo and Johnny's 1959 hit. On the vocal tracks, Noon usually growls or gabs in the foreground, with Wolfe cooing in the distance. It's Wolfe, however, who sings "My Apartment Complex," a song whose bouncy, cheesy keyboards briefly lighten the mood. Chilly as Parker and Lily's music is, the twosome's snow days can be an occasion for fun.

Next to "Here Comes Winter," the music of Matt Pond PA sounds almost unruly. There are some strident electric leads amid the acoustic strumming of the Philadelphia combo's "The Green Fury," and singer-guitarist Pond hasn't entirely abandoned the vehemence of his punk past. Still, this 13-piece orch-rock ensemble's use of string, wind and mallet instruments suggests Belle and Sebastian more than any harder-edged cohort.

Exploring suburban themes, the album ranges from the all-acoustic, almost-folkie "Jefferson" to the string-driven pop-rock of "Promise the Bite" to "It Becomes Night," which sounds like a countrified Cure. Co-producer Brian McTear, Philly indie-rock's most valuable player at the moment, even adds discreet synth bits to several tracks. The principal locomotion, however, is Pond's restless sensibility. "We're holding back so/ We won't explode," he sings in "Measure 3," and the violin and cello glissandos express that tension as well as a wail of guitar feedback.

-- Mark Jenkins

Both appearing Thursday at the Black Cat. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Parker and Lily, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8127; for a Sound Bite from Matt Pond PA, press 8128. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)