Beauticians Cosmopology

Given the playful and silly nature of most of the 14 tracks on this sophomore release, it's no surprise that Vancouver's Beauticians have been performing for children of late. The sophistication and sexual innuendo of songs like "June's Strip Poker Site" and "Exhibitionist," however, demonstrate that the quintet's intention is not to entertain the wee ones exclusively. Since the Beauticians' 1998 full-length debut, Imperiale, the band has picked up a second fiddler in Lara Kroeker. The dual catgut approach imparts an even folkier flourish to the group's sound, occasionally even conjuring up Middle Eastern nuances, as on one of the disc's highlight tracks, "Leaving the City." Other standouts include the duelling violin enriched "Vivaldi" and "Mrs. Primrose," which is reminiscent of some of Camper Van Beethoven's finer pop moments. A well-intentioned cover of Yaz's "Only You," however, fails to inspire (guitarist/vocalist Beez is no Alison Moyet, alas, who is?). Incidentally, that's Beez of Smugglers bass playing fame, although there's virtually no stylistic common ground between the two units. (Independent)