Lemon Jelly: 64-95

By Russell Baillie

The third album from the enigmatic English downbeat duo forges a connection to the golden age of New Zealand pop

(Herald rating: * * * *)

This album has already enhanced my lifestyle. For it has already annoyed my dinner guests.

There I was, about to light the barbecue, when I made the visitors try to guess the deep rumble of a voice issuing forth from track two.

It took a while. But soon it came: "John Rowles!"

Yes - as the story on this page explains - a classic track by our very own King of Croon has inspired a couple of British beat boffins 37 years after it went number one inBritain.

We could have played the same game with the last track Go, but dinner would have long been cold by then. And, frankly, it would have knocked the peas off their plates. And besides, everybody knows that Lemon Jelly - the enigmatic unseen British duo of Nick Franglen and Fred Deakin - were behind a track on William Shatner's 2004 album Has Been. So having Captain James T. Kirk doing his psychedelic proclamation thing is no great surprise, really.

What is though, is just how wacky and wonderful 64-95 is - the title referring to the original years of the songs they have sampled into the wide-ranging nine tracks.

How loud, too. Their previous two albums were largely pastoral, downbeat, cheerful snoozers.

This one asks you to dance, dance, dance to its - at least - 10 guitars.

That's whether they are purloined from metallers Masters of Reality (on strident acid-house opener Come Down on Me) to Scots post-punk band the Scars (on The Shouty Track).

Or whether they're sounding beamed in from the days of disco era on Stay With You (a sweet electro-soul number), or doing finger-picked folky things on Make Things Right (which lifts its vocal hook from mid 90s R&B starlet Monica).

The genre-hopping doesn't stop there - The Slow Train with its mix of doo-wop/gospel vocals and piston-hissing electronic rhythm reminds one of when Moby raided musical history on his hit album Play.

The slow-fused Don't Stop Now starts off all stereo-panned vocal sweet nothings and jittery synthesizers before adding another dozen or so electronic layers then gently subsiding.

Which brings us back to the gloriously beatific and oddly melancholic Only Time with the deeply hypnotic voice of Robo-Rowles.

It's possibly the strangest, loveliest thing on what is a strange and often lovely album. Just hope LJ might be persuaded to do the same to Hush Not a Word to Mary for their next one.

(XL RECORDINGS/SHOCK)

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