An intriguing mix of quirky harmonies and twangy, shaky grooves.
Zoe Howe 2008
If winter is taking its toll and you're desperate for a burst of sunshine, you are strongly advised to stick this on. It's a seemingly whimsical journey but don't be fooled – at the core of this album is a deep, velvety heart. An intriguing mix of quirky harmonies and twangy, shaky grooves, at first listen Circular Sounds is reminiscent of the most charming elements of Jim Noir and Aidan Smith.
But despite sharing that naïvely beautiful English sound (and witty lyrics) with Noir and Smith, Sub Pop's home-recording dude is American, which may explain that injection of sun-soaked brightness which tingles throughout.
Opening track, Everything Begins, prickles with deliberately (we assume) out of tune instruments and strange fairgroundy timbres, adding a cheeky clunkiness to muzz up the perfection.
First single, Your Reverie, is a compelling stomper laced with '60s-style Hammond, and the looser, guitar-led Mother Nature is also a highlight.
There's a darker, more mystical edge to I Nearly Lost My Mind, while Something More has a late Beatles tinge, dare we say it; simple and full of heart, but spiked with the melancholic sounds of lonesome harmonica and tumbling, echoey piano.
Stoltz makes some fine choices on this album, including enlisting the assistance of Kevin Ink, engineer for the weirdly wonderful Residents, and the resulting work is difficult to shove into a genre.
But really it shouldn't be shoved anywhere, it should be cupped delicately in both hands, or nestled against as the sun goes down. If you know what we mean.