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Harmonium

The Soundcarriers

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Album Review

The Soundcarriers are carrying the popsike torch, high and proud. Their debut album is a sweet platter of fluffy, aerial songs that owe a lot to '60s U.K. psychedelic pop, with a touch of tropicalia (in the vocal harmonies) and groove jazz. The sound is very '60s-like, replete with clean electric guitar (OK, there's some fuzz guitar in there too), electric piano, and the occasional harpsichord. Comparisons to the Free Design, the lighter side of Pink Floyd, and (to thrown in a more contemporary name), Stereolab are in order, but the Soundcarriers are probably more the product of the combined influences of all those forgotten psychedelic pop sides reissued on so many CD collections. One thing is sure: on Harmonium, their debut, the band has perfectly nailed the spirit of the '60s. The songs often adopt a midtempo suitable for dreaming while dancing, and the arrangements have an almost Krautrock-like quality: stark and efficient, no solos, everything focused on either the groove or the song. Clocking in at over 60 minutes, it tends to overcome its stay a bit, its dreamy pop turning sickly sweet with time, despite a nice effort to squeeze in an instrumental here and there to change the pace. The one factor contributing most to this impression is the harmony vocals, which are constantly pretty, perfectly executed, and similar. Though the songs vary a bit in style, the vocals rarely do. It might have worked fine in a 40-minute time frame, but as it stands, Harmonium gets tiresome toward the end. However, fans of light, clean, crisp and non-threatening psychedelia — as in '60s children's TV music, library music, groovy instrumentals with a flute lead, etc. — will be delighted, and rightfully so. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Harmonium, The Soundcarriers
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