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The Loch Ness Mouse | Key West (Perfect Pop)
More twee than thou, Norway's Loch Ness Mouse have been mucking about for a decade as part of the inbred Perfect Pop label, and now that The Tables have disbanded, this is as close as you'll get to the Elephant 6 collective without going for the real thing. Well, that's not quite true - as members of Of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control et al in fact guests on here. Proof if needed that naivety knows no borders. And, as is the case with our Elephant friends, The Loch Ness Mouse's childlike outlook, Beach Boys harmonizing and melancholic pop all belie the intriguing complexity and pop craftsmanship at hand. The music moves freely and quietly around, as if the melodies have been around forever, just waiting to be played by someone, anyone. Repeated listening, however, moves beyond plain pop 101 to reveal an album of profound capacity and more unexpected twists and turns than you could possible hope for. The lyrics are fantastic, shimmering and image-laden reflections on everyday wonders, beauty seen through the eyes of a child. "I'm drawn to the beauty of harbours / Of cargoes that move under cranes / Huge passenger ships in blue and white / That show up against the sky", they sing on the bouncy In the City In the Morning, just one out of many remarkable tracks on here, and that is the world The Loch Ness Mouse present: One filled with minor wonders that suddenly overwhelms, impressions that casts long shadows and are revisited time and time again, worked over and over again in the songs, never reaching the conclusion they strive for. In that sense, this is a tragic and despairing album, the recurring motif of running away while looking back being impressively explored yet never fully satisfactorily so. The Loch Ness Mouse, however, never give in to this sense of despair, and sparks of hope and resurrection run throughout, lending an air of poignancy and brief triumph to the music. At just under 40 minutes, The Loch Ness Mouse have made an album that pretends melancholia and good-natured ignorance while at its heart lies a compressed, complex and beautiful album that only grows with time and effort. Good to have them back.

Stein Haukland
November 2002