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Starlight Mints | Built On Squares (PIAS America)
The Flaming Lips comparisons that Starlight Mints' 2000 debut, 'The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of', was met with were somewhat inaccurate, if not totally unwelcome due to the amount of press garnered lauding the Lips' psychedelic pop ramblings. But the new album, 'Built On Squares', is a notable step forward for Alan Vest & Co. The surrealist and weird, but all too often tedious, pop of the debut has been replaced by  more adventurous arrangements and, well, better tunes. Heck, even Vest's vocals have transformed from laborious whine to more relaxed and confident tones. The Oklahoma three-piece uses strings and brass as the platform for many of their tunes, making them an oddity in the world of pop. Indeed each song is a piece made for theatre, polished and perfected to an often dramatic finish both lyrically and production-wise. Highlights abound, but start with the Beatlesey Zillion Eyes and Jack in the Squares and you're guaranteed to be won over.

Torbjørn Wickman
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003