The seventh album by these Welsh baroque-pop mavericks refines their flamboyant songcraft in one grandiose, candy-coated, 54-minute package. Far more adventurous and fun (and less maudlin) than recent efforts by peers like Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips, Love Kraft slyly alludes to several classic-rock touchstones (Beatles; Nilsson; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young) and behind-the-scenes geniuses like Van Dyke Parks and David Axelrod, without seeming obnoxiously imitative. If you can tolerate lyrics that often flirt with gibberish ("Kiss me with apocalypse"? No thanks.), you'll be nearly overwhelmed by the Animals' kaleidoscopic refraction of Nixon-era rock 'n' pop conventions. These loopy Welshmen miraculously rejuvenate styles we thought had been consigned to Oasis and musty AOR stations. It's a feat as remarkable as erasing the wrinkles from Keith Richards' mug.
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