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Blanket Music
(Hush Records)

The other day it was 90 degrees here. 90 degrees fahrenheit already and it's only halfway through April. In contrast, sometimes we've been known to get snow this late in the year, but with the high temperatures already shown it looks like 2002 is going to go down in the recordbooks as another power grid cruncher. That in mind, it's a good thing that Move came out when it did, because it's a nice little 40-minute trip of light, poppy music that somehow manages to make the oppressive weather slightly less so. As the little cocktail umbrella lodged in the spine of the jewel case would suggest, this album is all about fun, baby.

Although they'd released a debut full-length entitled Nice, my introduction to Blanket Music came on their Split EP that came out a couple months ago with Noise For Pretend. On that 8 track release (4 of which were from Blanket Music), I was introduced to their penchant for catchy tracks that mix sincerity with a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek humor. With a mix of bossa nova, light jazz, pop, and a touch of electronics, they carve out a niche of 12 tracks that even the most jaded curmudgeon would have a hard time not tapping their foot and humming to.

The album begins and ends with short, instrumental album-titled tracks that set things in gentle motion and wave a smiling goodbye respectively. A pretty acoustic guitar melody weaves its way over some watery, gurgling electronic sounds before the disc launches into one of the groups masterworks of catchiness, "Hips." A slightly reworked version of the same track that was featured on the aforementioned EP (the only track on this disc that appears on both, incidentally), it starts the disc in motion in earnest with great guy/girl vocal harmonies and breezy backing. "Tap The Beat" follows up with lyrics that would be rather surreal and macabre in nearly any other setting, but the group turns it into something that's downright touching, as the hopalong instrumentation again provides a great backing.

The only time the 'fun' quotient threatens to derail things a bit is on spoken-word chorus of "Got To Be My Own Way" in which lead singer Crouch and a female singer exchange words in a conversational way while the music continues on. Still, though, this album is about the fun, and things like that are allowed. Some good-natured fun pokes its way into lots of different tracks as well, including pretentious art-school kids in "Hot Designers" and the IDM scene in "Itchy Popcorn." You'd have to be thin skinned to take any offense at either, especially after reading the liner notes, which offer up quite a bit of amusement by themselves (album production and programming by Dan "The Automaker" Nobukura Tackymirror).

It's also to the groups benefit that they can turn something as seemingly mundane as to-do lists into a hummable track, but that's just what they do with "Walk The Dog." Crouch simply runs through a list of what sounds like an entire Saturday's activities while female vocalists add almost metronomic "tick-tocks" behind him. Again, it's light and breezy, and anything else probably wouldn't work. So it goes for the album as a whole, and it's refreshing in a way that's clear of pretense and hidden agendas. They just want you to sway your hips and move a bit, what's so wrong with that?

Rating: 7.5