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Cold And Bouncy

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Album Review

Cold and Bouncy is an accurate description of the High Llamas' music, in many ways. On the surface, it's light and airy, with sprightly or sighing melodies, sometimes quite detailed, but that very attention to detail keeps the music at an emotional distance — it's easy to admire Sean O'Hagan's skill, but a little more difficult to be moved by it. Still, there's a lot to be said for being evocative, which the High Llamas certainly are. Like its predecessor, Hawaii, Cold and Bouncy floats between involved instrumentals and songs, relying on texture more than actual songwriting. O'Hagan is beginning to break away from his Brian Wilson obsessions, even if echoes of SMiLE and Pet Sounds are evident throughout the record. However, it sounds more than ever like original work, thanks to a subtle incorporation of retro-electronic textures, straight out of his work with Stereolab. Those keyboards open the sound up just enough to make Cold and Bouncy the group's most inviting release since Gideon Gaye, but it still suffers from O'Hagan's meandering tendencies. While it's not the marathon of Hawaii, the album still runs way too long, lasting well over an hour. Instead of adding depth, the length makes O'Hagan's ideas difficult to assimilate, and by the end of the record, it sounds like he only has variations on a handful of themes. But when the album is consumed in small doses, however, O'Hagan's flair for arrangement and sonic detail burns brightly.


Formed: 1991 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although the High Llamas are nominally a group, they're pretty much the brainchild of singer and guitarist Sean O'Hagan. O'Hagan did some time in the London-by-way-of-Dublin band Microdisney, in which he was the songwriting partner of Cathal Coughlan. After Microdisney split in 1988 (Coughlan forming Fatima Mansions), O'Hagan released a couple of import-only solo albums before forming the High Llamas. The Llamas issued their debut, Gideon Gaye, in 1994 to high praise in the British press; it was...
Full bio
Cold And Bouncy, The High Llamas
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  • £6.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Pop/Rock
  • Released: 01 January 1998

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