The sexy librarian, the saturnine professor inviting sweet young things in for Madeira, the nuclear physicist with the 'come up and see my warhead' smile...

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Snowbug

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Snowbug

The sexy librarian, the saturnine professor inviting sweet young things in for Madeira, the nuclear physicist with the ‘come up and see my warhead’ smile – there’s no reason why academic pop should be wrapped in dust jackets and cardigans. Yet while [a]Stereolab[/a] are no strangers to the groove thing and most forward-thinking electronica has a latent kink, The High Llamas‘ meticulous research extrapolates musical magic into fastidious graphs.

Through their now-traditional [a]Brian Wilson[/a] melodies there comes a gentle electronic chuckle – Tortoise‘s John McEntire engineered – yet it’s distinctly less than the precise algebraic equation of its parts. The dippy Pierre Cardin burbling of ‘Janet Jangle’ and ‘Go To Montecito’ are on the nails-on-blackboard side of irritating, and while the loveliest songs – the sun-dancing ‘Bach Ze’, ‘Cut The Dummy Loose’ – lark prettily about on a bicycle with Robert Redford, there’s not a flicker of emotional static.

It would be just as edifying looking at some tapestry, maybe a neatly thrown pot. And if you believe that any creative human endeavour performed well is a beautiful thing, then listen to Sean O’Hagan sighing, “This machine sounds like a song”, on ‘Amin’. Not so much a band as a generator, it’s time The High Llamas threw a spanner in their works. Or else threw in this particular towel.