Detective Kalita The Night We Ate the Cake

It’s hard to miss the heavy Stephen Malkmus influence on 27-year-old singer-songwriter Andy Swan’s second full-length with his six-piece band Detective Kalita, though it’s far from the sole element in their impressive bag of tricks. Several common elements persevere throughout The Night We Ate the Cake, but its 17 brief tracks (only three breech the three-minute mark), appropriately produced by Andy Magoffin of the Two-Minute Miracles, still play like a forgotten indie rock/pop/alt-country mix tape from the ‘90s, ranging from plaintive balladry à la Will Johnson ("Used to be Bob Dylan” and "Bird with a Ball Foot”) to farcical skits like "The Sun Just Gets Up (So it Can Beat You Down).” "The Queen of Dirty Glasses” maintains a folk-country exterior and vocals that recall Songs: Ohia’s earlier work, while "Lucky Guy” and "True Blue” defy any attempts at direct comparisons, confirming DK capable of developing a sound of their own as equally compelling as their homage material. Also of note are the album’s lengthy liner notes, a 16-page comic constructing the group’s campy, smooth operating namesake that will apparently "be continued" with the next record. It’s hard not to admire that kind of dedication to building an image, though with a record this good, they hardly need to go through all the effort. Leave the gimmicking to go-nowhere projects like the Gorillaz. (Kelp)