The High Llamas
Talahomi Way (Drag City)
Over-easy listening. Top-level elevator music. Whatever you want to call the High Llamas' singular brand of high-brow, low-key grooves, there's absolutely no denying their stranglehold over dense, well-produced atmosphere. Over the course of the 12 tracks and 37 minutes on Talahomi Way, the London-based sextet's ninth album, guitarist/songwriter Sean O'Hagan and company craft a winsome assortment of lightweight soundscapes, touching on everything from '60s TV show themes to bossa nova to bad-ass on-hold music, from Grizzly Bear to Stereolab to Seals and Croft.
O'Hagan finger-plucks jazz chords on an acoustic and sings in a soft, anonymous tenor that floats like discarded debris atop his band's breezy thicket. Strings saw; vibraphones massage; fidgety, Pet Sounds-influenced electric basses cut sharply through the mix. This is romantic, artful dinner music for indie rockers, spiced up with the occasional synth gurgle or wave of electronics. But for all its contemporary touches, Talahomi Way still sounds teleported in from a completely different age.
Talahomi Way is very much an acquired taste; these guys aren't much for eclecticism, and the cumulative effect is a bit sleepy—listen on a late night drive, and you might wake up in a ditch. But it sure would be one gorgeous-sounding crash.