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The Books: The Lemon Of Pink

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The Books

Album: The Lemon Of Pink
Label: Tomlab

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A rootless sound that defies the urge to trace its origins, The Books' woozy collage style lends electronic manipulation the air of an organic rustle. Banjos and fiddles have been put through the laptop wringer before, but few records make a humble, striking show of it like The Lemon Of Pink. A duo that recorded most of the album in rural Massachusetts, The Books works with sound bits ranging from fingerpicked strings to breathy vocals to frizzy click tracks. On songs like "There Is No There," the pieces fall into place without seeming guided, floating through movements that sound cut up in isolation, but homey and tender as a whole. The buttoned-up, drawing-room mix of "Tokyo" would make supreme montage material for Wes Anderson, whose cinematic quirks echo The Books' precious eccentricity. Working with foreign-language bits and vocal melodies chopped to near-oblivion, "S Is For Evrysing" yawns through passages that are heady but immersive. Ideas and decrees flit about, through samples or gorgeous singing, but The Lemon Of Pink strives for meaning like that communicated through its word-jam title. Some of the exposed-seam splicing sounds sloppy and/or twee, but the guys in The Books wield a solid musical hand over melodic figures that hint at swooning grandeur without falling prey to florid temptation. Strings swell and chamber bits summon prim Victorian gatherings, but The Lemon Of Pink still sounds like two men sitting in a quiet room, with a machine and enough imagination to make it dictate and disappear.