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Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck

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Album Review

Granddaddy, Mercury Rev, Sparklehorse, and the Flaming Lips are all names that will be inevitably dropped when trying to describe the elegant space pop that emanates from this frustratingly inventive/derivative London collective. Flotation Toy Warning — they will come to regret that name — are so intent on shrouding themselves in mystery that it often overshadows the material. While their murky biography aims for a Decemberists' level of dubious achievement (arctic explorers, failed inventors, and flying machine test pilots), the music itself is highly melodic, occasionally uplifting, and alarmingly easy to digest — for all of their talk about "a soundtrack created from previously unknown instruments," Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck sticks to the teeth like peanut brittle. Like the Lips, FTW craft warm and humane sounding confections out of electronic mediums, a feat that's accomplished to perfection early on with "Happy 13." It's an instantly contagious fusion of Stereolab minimalism and Polyphonic Spree grandeur with a keyboard line that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Air's Moon Safari. What sets the band apart from all of its obvious influences are the vocals. Donald Drusky's distinctly British delivery sounds like a less nervous Ray Davies, and when he plays with syllables, whether profane or genteel, it's always in the service of the song. "Popstar Reaching Oblivion," the epic "Donald Pleasance," and the deliciously brief "Made from Tiny Boxes" all make for a stellar first half, but by the time the listener arrives at the 15-minute closer, what once sounded so fresh and open now feels unfinished and repetitive. Bluffer is by no means a bad record. In fact, it may end up on many a critic's "Best Of" list come December, but for all of their detailed attention to back-story, enigmatic lyrics, and supposed inventiveness, Flotation Toy Warning's full-length debut is surprisingly conservative.

Customer Reviews

Hauntingly Absolute, Simply Gorgeous.

I bought this album while killing some time at the record store one day. The purchase was prompted by the cover and the odd name. Sometimes I buy albums on a whim and hope for greatness. The minute I got to my car, I popped it in the cd player and was going to listen to it on the way home. I got so caught up in the first few songs, that I hadn't even put it in drive yet. This album has everything. Magic, perfection, unique lyrics and song structure. It all fits together so well. I might call it a masterpiece if provoked. Any less a review would be a joke. Most of all this album is beautiful, absolutely hauntingly beautiful. Please please please make another.

Like a Dream

I can't think of another group that sounds like this. An outstanding album that defines dream pop/neo psychedelic music. A perfect headphone album.

Not something that should be put on as "background" music while doing other things. This demands your attention. Starts off with the sound of a boat creaking while the water gently laps around it and drifts into songs that deal with lost love, dreams, the past and the future.

Part of the lyrics in the first song, Happy 13, sets the mood for the entire album:
"'Cause I've seen things
That you could only dream about
I've been to places that you'll never find
And I've had dreams that you couldn't even fit inside your head"

And each song is like a beautiful dream that you can't explain to another and do it justice. Well, this album comes as close to describing those dreams as possible. Simply a beautiful journey you've never been on before.

Truly amazing

This album is a work of art


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Formed in 2001, London-based space rock/chamber pop collective Flotation Toy Warning combine the earnestness of the Flaming Lips with the melodic attack of Air. The British quintet is made up of frontman Donald Drusky, drummer Don LeCannes, Magnesi Rish, Benedict L. Maidsaver, and Victoria W. Vest. Flotation Toy Warning released two four-track EPs in 2002, followed by their atmospheric full-length debut, Bluffer's Guide...
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