Talahomi WayAlbum | The High Llamas By Stewart Mason
A lush tropical idyll.
Let this be a lesson to all young bands out there: be careful what you name your early albums, because you might accidentally squander what will turn out to be a perfect title for a later project. 16 years after their third album Hawaii made a generation of lazy rock critics lump The High Llamas in with the short-lived mid-'90s exotica revival, singer-songwriter Sean O'Hagan and his faithful crew have released the album they should have named after America's 50th state. A semi-concept album partially set in an imaginary tropical paradise, Talahomi Way is the High Llamas' most instantly likeable album since that early high point. (Later records like the largely electronic Cold and Bouncy or the minimalist, near-folky Beet, Maize and Corn take a few spins to fully unleash their charms.) Acoustic guitars, swirling strings, Bacharach-like muted trumpets, vibes and more fill the soundscape, but O'Hagan's remarkable gifts as an arranger keep the songs from sounding overstuffed even as the between-track instrumental interludes recall the suitelike structures of Hawaii and Gideon Gaye. As always, his lyrics tend toward the elliptical, but there are flashes of uncharacteristic emotional plain-speaking as well: In "Take My Hand," the sole repeated lyric--"Take my hand and run it through the sand"--melds with its jaunty melody to create a quietly intimate mood. Elsewhere, "Fly Baby Fly" (which recalls the lushness of vintage Steely Dan) and the winsome closer "Calling Up, Ringing Down" are the sonic equivalent of that first warm night of spring.
|Heading Out Talahomi Way|