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Tobin Sprout | Lost Planets & Phantom Voices (Recordhead)
Although inevitably less prolific than his former Guided by Voices associate Robert Pollard, the recent past has seen a wealth of material from Tobin Sprout. Two albums with Pollard under the Airport 5 guise, the full-band project Eyesinweasel and last year's 'Sentimental Stations' solo EP have kept him busy but 'Lost Planets' is the modest masterpiece to top them all. The mid-fi, everything-louder-than-everything-else production is surprisingly warm and the joyous, analogue-friendly mix of cheap synths, layered guitars and steady percussion rings out beneath Sprout's boyish, charming voice. Midway, the retro, wah-wah infused instrumental Martini and bargain basement drum machine and fuzz guitar of Rub Your Buddha Tummy provide the parameters that shape the idiosyncratic world of Tobin Sprout. For the most part, 'Lost Planets' is hook-laden musically and obtuse lyrically, with highlights aplenty, like the dreamy psych-pop of Shirley The Rainbow or the melody-drenched perfection of Doctor #8 (this album's counterpart to Angels Hang Their Socks on the Moon).
With help from guests including labelmates The Impossible Shapes, Sprout's latest set of two and three-minute jewels makes for one of the most effortlessly enjoyable listens you're likely to encounter this year.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003