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No Sophomore Slump Here

The Geometrid
(Sub Pop)

When I read that Stuart David was leaving Belle and Sebastian to pursue his music with Looper full time, I was sort of hesitant in celebrating. While I really enjoyed the debut Looper album Up A Tree, I almost felt like the work he'd done with Belle and Sebastian was still better. A couple months later, I ended up seeing them on tour with the Flaming Lips in a supporting role and they played a bunch of songs off their forthcoming album, all of which I immediately took a liking to.

While some people may dismiss Looper as a gimmick group of cheap synths, drum machines and goofy lyrics, I've found that I enjoy their new album a great deal more than their old release. Not only do they take a lot more different routes in terms of song styles, but the added musician in the group only adds another layer to their sound. While they're still pretty much a lo-fi beat-driven pop group, their songwriting has improved greatly, making The Geometrid the perfect album to accompany those sunny summer days when you feel like nothing more than smiling and running around in the sun. While I tend to like a majority of my music on the somewhat depressing side, Looper is that perfect flipside of the coin, offering up a batch of 10 super-catchy tracks that I can tap my foot to and even sing along with occassionally.

The album starts out with the excellent instrumental of "Mondo '77" and doesn't really let up from there. With a sample of a highly-excited friend and a beat that feels more hip-hop influenced than before, the horn bursts and cheesy keyboards fuel things to dizzying heights. From there, the group adds a bit of fuzzed-out guitar to the mixture with "On The Flipside," a pretty little track with David on vocals. Of course, the group doesn't stop there, and the very next song (fittingly titled "Modem Song") is based around the gurgling sounds of a modem. It sounds like a gimmick, but it works quite well. After the sing-along "Uncle Ray" and the short "Puddlemonkey" comes the track that deserves to be a hit anywhere. Although "These Things" is based on a filler riff played by band member Ronnie when equipment went on the fritz during a show, the quiet two-part vocals by Stuart David and his wife Karn make it one of the nicest, catchiest songs I've heard in quite some time.

Although the album ends on the someone silly "Money Hair" (that doesn't work quite as well as the rest of the tracks on the disc), the group still manages 3 more excellent tracks before things wind down. "Tomorrow's World" comes in a close second as catchiest song on the disc while "My Robot" tells a tale of trying to build a robot that will create music for the group. It's silly and fun, but that's the album in a nutshell. Overall, The Geometrid is a great step for the band and although they still may not be known by the masses, it doesn't mean they're not creating excellent music. If you liked the group before, you'll enjoy this and even if you haven't heard them yet, you should right now.

Rating: 7.5