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Sodastream | The Hill For Company (Tugboat)
Sounding more like Belle and Sebastian than even Belle and Sebastian, Australia's Sodastream return with their prettiest, most melancholy release to date. In the same way Mojave 3 use touches of Americana to flesh out their gently strummed sound, Karl Smith and Co. introduce things with the country tinged Heaven on the Ground, leading into the sonically aptly titled Lushington Hall. Though there is nothing that we haven't heard before here, it is the sense of the familiar that makes 'The Hill for Company' such a pleasant and comforting record. I know it sounds like such a lazy cliché, but it really is a rainy Sunday morning record. The guitars sound beautiful and warm, especially on Welcome Bunker, which recalls the instant melodies of Nick Drake, and the subtle cello is rich and moving. The acoustic bass led Real Prince is my favourite here, its gentle trumpet solo perfectly harmonising with Smith's voice. Devil on my Shoulder is another standout, being impeccably arranged for piano and cello. Much like Kathryn Williams' fantastic 'Little Black Numbers', 'The Hill For Company' is a fine, measured record. Minimal yet imaginatively arranged, and a thoroughly pleasant listening experience.

James Hindle
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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