Surface to Air Missive's debut album from earlier this year was a rather impressive affair. They produced wonky pop that wandered like Pavement on a confusing day. That's long sold out now so we have been treated to another. The tasters sound rather good like early Of Montreal or the Lily's. Looking forward to this.
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- A V by Surface To Air Missive
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I was very impressed by the previous Surface to Air Missive record 'Third Missive' which had the unusual sound of a Southern rock obsessed Pavement chasing their tails circa 'Wowee Zowee'. An often confusing release that reaped rewards once you got your head around it.
Although 'Third Missive' was mainly the work of one man Taylor Ross it sounded like a band at work, 'AV' is more clearly the work of one man. Ross is fond of a chord change or two and here uses his expertise to create a series of oddball vignettes that recall fellow strange travellers the the Lily's or Richard Davies's never straightforward collective the Moles. 'My Finest Shirt' is typical of what is on offer here. It starts, it stops it veers off into all kind of directions and threatens for a second to break out into a fully fledged rock song before holding back at the last minute.
The best moments are those that sound fully realised. 'Please No More' is a fascinating twist of acoustic proggy pop with acoustic guitars meshing with recorders to emerge with something that is one part Elliott Smith and one part Yes. There's some astonishingly brilliant creativity at work here. When Ross hones his ideas into something that makes sense outside of his own head the effect is mesmerising. Yet he can't help but meddle...he HAS to introduce a wibbly guitar solo just to disrupt the pop perfection. Elsewhere the recorder and classical guitar intertwinings of 'Return of Swan' recall pastoral proggers such as Caravan or Stackridge.
AV is both baffling and fascinating. The first half is oddball singer songwriter stuff, as it wears on it gets more realised with more complicated arrangements and it's these tracks that are completely disarming me. Tracks like 'Morning Thought' are brilliant twisty pop songs that sound like Lily's circa 'The Three Way' or the more pastoral elements of Tim Smith's Cardiacs. And this is a very good thing indeed.
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