Release Date: Feb 20, 2007
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Over the course of their career, the High Llamas successfully combined '60s pop sensibilities with burbling analog synth accents and laid-back, West Coast vibes with a NYC session cat's journeyman aesthetic. Every Llamas album has embraced these creative styles in varying degrees: from Gideon Gaye's decidedly '60s Brit-pop bent, to Hawaii's sprawling and breezy beaches, to Cold and Bouncy's warmly clinical brand of slickness, to Beet, Maize & Corn's detailed chamber pop, the Llamas have succeeded at every slight stylistic turn they have taken. Now, with 2007's Can Cladders, O'Hagan and the Llamas are bringing it all together.
In a sense, Can Cladders sounds as perfect as a band's eighth album should. Impeccably produced, it's stately yet buoyant, its strings and harps and guitars and gentle drums moving together as naturally as a warm breeze through palm trees. And yet, listening to it is like being trapped in a gallery full of paintings by Georges Seurat: you know the technique is brilliant, but that doesn't stop it being mildly irritating.
Much like fellow Scot Momus, Sean O’Hagan of the High Llamas is a pop music semiotician. Intentionally or not, he’s at his most compelling when he revels in the artifice of his own compositions. Can Cladders, the band’s string-laden eighth album, is just as much at ease with this as its predecessors. The album’s 13 insubstantial tracks make no concessions to contemporary ideas of ‘substance’ in pop music: they are exercises in style so formal they’re almost French.