We listen for a while, then everything - this music, our brains - begins to atrophy....More on
If we refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt, then O'Hagan's carefully constructed sonic blancmanges congeal pretty quickly. Like Stereolab, The High Llamas are obsessive nerds, endlessly tweaking minute elements of their sound in such a neurotic, self-regarding manner that only other nerds could tell the difference. We listen for a while, then everything - this music, our brains - begins to atrophy.
The High Llamas made one great record, 'Gideon Gaye', which proved O'Hagan could write masterful, sugary psychedelic AOR. He proves it again here, with 'The Passing Bell' which is brilliant Capri-Sun pop - and O'Hagan knows it, because he lets it meander on beautifully for ten minutes. After that, we're at the mercy of his wayward desire to say nothing of any consequence in the style of 'Holland'-era Brian Wilson with sunstroke.
And he does just that. Again.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday