Darn It, It's Nice

Who needs a bouncier, more cheerful, and somewhat less

politicized

Stereolab? Who needs the longueurs of instrumental suites that

sound like

Brian Wilson did release "Smile," after all, and

influenced everything that came afterwards? Quite possibly,

you do.

Maybe Stereolab put you off, with more bleeping and

French-accented vocalization than you need for your parties or

private toe-tapping. And maybe you're one of those nuts

who bought the Pet Sounds box, and have no problem

with homage paid to the Buddha-like Wilson.

What impresses about Stereolab is present -- the texture,

entrancing rhythm, and melodicism of "Glide Time," or the

self-explanatory "Jazzed Carpenter." In fact, Head Llama

Sean O'Hagan has been on Stereolab albums since

before anybody listened to 'em. Yet the High

Llamas also offer cheery and complexly harmonized pop,

as in the Beach Boys-ey "Tilting Windmills," or the sugar-smack-

burble of the Wilsonesque "HiBall Nova Scotia."

Cold and Bouncy is an apt title. The album isn't

so much concerned with dance beats as with relaxation, and joy.

The coldness of the instrumentation and production

never obscure the fact that the music is bouncy, even

sappy -- hey, don't you feel bouncy and sappy sometimes?

And in that, it's different from the earlier Hawaii,

which was an act of seriously obsessive homage,

down to the cover art with its punning references

to the lyrics of the Beach Boys' "Surf's Up." Instead, this

album is light fare in the best sense: darn it, it's nice,

and Brian Wilson always said the purpose of music is to make you

feel better.

If you haven't liked High Llamas yet, this won't change

your mind, but you could certainly do worse than a cold and

bouncy

waltz round your room with this music till Brian Wilson, Stereolab

or whoever brings you bliss turn up with new music for your

pleasure.