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The Ladybug Transistor | Argyle Heir (Merge/Pointy)
While the Strokes are setting New York and music pages ablaze with their raucous Tom Petty riffs there's a much gentler time to be had across the East River. Here we find our little Ladybugs (or should it be Ladybyrds judging from the cover) continuing their quest for pure pop. Not that manufactured stuff that litters the charts, their kind is the sort steeped in sixties psychedelia, nineties lo-fi and medieval melodies. Fires On The Ocean combines all three and it's only the first track. There's even a flute solo, but it's handled well enough so as to not give you James Galway flashbacks. They're not afraid to throw in strings either, along with a variety of horns and some stuff they probably found lying about, but they know how to use them all. Perfect For Shattering starts like the Beach Boys and then a flute and trumpet burst in from nowhere, but it sounds normal, for this is the world of the Ladybugs. Crooned songs shape-shift as a rampant keyboard takes over and then vanishes as if nothing happened, even hijacking the Tudor waltz of Catherine Elizabeth for a brief instant. There's more old-time shenanigans on Fjords Of Winter, a jaunty instrumental that would have Henry VIII jigging like a good 'un. Elsewhere they take on the Zombies, Blood Sweat & Tears and a smidgen of the Mamas & The Papas as they wend their merry way with a kaleidoscopic sound. Brighton Bound tootles along like a 30's trip to the coast while Caton Gardens brings a lullaby close to proceedings with an air of melancholy that a journey's end often provokes. Fly away to a better place with this, just don't cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002