This was probably the first album since Radiohead that I've been actively waiting for, so right off the bat this is likely to be a one sided review. We'd been previewing a few of the tracks at chimp HQ, so I was slightly nervous that I might have blown it's chance of holding together, but straight away the official sequence of the tracks works a lot better than what I'd been listening to... as well as adding several more standout tracks.
Things start off well with Worldless Chorus, a fairly catchy opener using the keyboard sound that was apparant at the recent Jim James solo gig. Although the sound is new for the band, it's with It Beats 4U however, that things really take a more unusual turn. Using shuffling drums and a more disco sound this really does sound like a move forward for the band. Radiohead producer John Leckie (The Bends) seems to have taken their ideas and really distilled them down into a sound that is both classic and contemporary (send insults to email@example.com).
Into the Woods uses effects and sounds of fairgrounds to create a haunting atmosphere, which after several listens has become a standout track on the album. Anytime rocks. Knot Comes Loose is classic At Dawn era MMJ, and Dondante is a powerful, emotional finale.... working from quiet and simple up to soaring and loud, showcasing all aspects of this great band.
At 47 minutes it's relatively short and sweet, but definitely unmissable.
UPDATE: I exercised a vague note of caution with my initial 4.5 rating, but I'm now confident this is a bonifide keeper at 5.
24th Oct 2005 - Tumblr5