the high llamas: cold and bouncy (1998)

llamas_coldSean O’Hagan and company bounce back with an album which, while not the equal of Hawaii, is very pleasing, pleasant and of the same groove as past efforts. In some ways, not much has changed. The same easy listening, lounge sound of laying back to catch some rays with a cold drink in your hands, sharp melodies that say “hey you, take a load off, you’ve had a long hard day, and you deserve some rest.” There is one big difference, though: a thorough infusion with all manner of chirpy, burbling, mumbling and staccato electronic noises. They’re so pervasive that they never, ever go away completely. I think some of the string orchestration from Hawaii was lost in favor of more artificial sounds, and while this might be off-putting at first, the electronica eventually comes to be realized as the album’s concept and the element that holds it together. Bouncy, perhaps. Bubbling is more like it, as in the frothy “Jazzed Carpenter” which does for electronic samples what drum-n-bass did for percussion, as in turn up the beats-per-minute knob as far as it can possibly go. “Show Stop Hip Hop” can’t make up its mind what it wants to be: a reggae number, a children’s nursery rhyme sing-along, or a disco dance tune! Actually come to think of it, the strongly pointed melodies, “singing-ness”, and all the quirky sounds in the background could make this a great kids’ album. But grown-ups love it too. See this grin on my face? 4 – waterviola

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