Not going to lie, this album Blessing, Cleaning & Cutting came at a pretty good time in my life, i.e., a time when I'm leaning toward a lot of electronic music. Neil Gay and Paul MacMahon list theremins, stylophones, toy pianos and synthesizers as part of their arsenal. Every song is mad poppy. Was honey dripping from those machines during recording? I won't lie either, the accent of the vocalist is definitely a draw. You know how some music just sounds better if it's sung by a particular group of people? Sorry, but that's what synth-pop is to me when it's sung by a guy from Bristol. Don't believe me? Check out the fantastic "Soft Engineering" and ask yourself if an American could've pulled that off. Whatever the origins, the vocals add the warmth of the record. Sound effects cascade gracefully and gather into Technicolor pools of cheerfulness and benevolence. This is sugary synth-pop of the highest order.
The album starts with the excellent "Stamps" which is beyond infectious and has a fun circus of sounds you can delve into.
It has a super fun fuzzed out synth bass line that drives a very danceable rhythm towards the end of the song. The second song "Compartments and Pockets" is just as danceable and is the type of song you would spin to get you in a good mood before you go out on the town. "A War Shuffle" is one of the highlights and also one of the more experimental songs on the album. I fell in love with original guitar riff and the interwoven intricate melodies and the 1:30 mark. The warm arpeggiated synths and heartfelt vocal were a nice transition on "Jon Draws Lines" while "Trying Old Fishes" is a short and quirky song.
I don't think these guys could sound sad if they tried. "Deep Salted Wounds" attempts to admirably with its stilted beat composition and generally quieter sound but it's a no-go for me; even the gentle fade-out has me itching for more fuzz. "Pickle and Pear" is a jaunty number that teases you with its apparent need to break into song but tightly holds itself back and somehow this works better than if the song did fall to pressure from dance.
This is an excellent album. I wish it were a cake just so I could deck it out in multi-colored frosting and sprinkles.
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