Sonic alchemists with pop magic dancing from their fingertips, Edinburgh's [a]Khaya[/a] have spent their young lives sculpting art-rock's...

Sonic alchemists with pop magic dancing from their fingertips, Edinburgh's Khaya have spent their young lives sculpting art-rock's prismatic muse into increasingly maverick shapes. While their 1998 debut album 'We've Got Rhymes For Times Like These' posited a persuasive case for Fall-infected, VU-scented punk-pop, 'Avoidance' sees the youthful collective snub such easy comparisons in favour of all-out cosmic lunacy.

And wonderfully, thrillingly unhinged it is too, with 'Do The Thing' bathing in a strange stream of new-wave hand-claps and folksome strings, while the gorgeously Motown-esque 'Wild Friends' gallops through the gates of pop delirium with its heart ablaze.

Within 'Avoidance''s labyrinthine alleyways throbs the quickened pulse of the truly ingenious - a fact that enables Iron Maiden-ish 'Baby, You Terrify Me' to escape its marble-washed moorings and head straight for uncharted, kiddie-metal/space-folk seas. Free from the preciousness and nervous insularity that blights much of today's art-rock, 'Avoidance' is not just unique in its eagerness to explore pop's dusty nether regions, but because it is that most scarce of creatures - an album beaming with life, love and the heart-stopping thrill of real promise. Khaya, then: all hail the new eclectics.
8 / 10

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