Erland & The Carnival Nightingale

Erland & The Carnival Nightingale
People cite "raw talent" all the time, usually referring to young people who stumble upon creating a remarkable debut. Less discussed is "mature talent": bands that have everything under scary amounts of control. Proving again that most of Blur were just aching to do something more interesting, Simon Tong guides Erland & the Carnival through Nightingale, their expansive sophomore release. The centrepiece unpredictability of the album is not immediately obvious, with Tong's the Good, the Bad & the Queen days showing plainly on album opener "So Tired In The Morning." Things get interesting come "Emmeline," the haunted house howling giving way to the soft swells of highlight "I'm Not Really Here," a mix of Princess Vespa lyricism and swaying jazz drums. "This Night" picks up its skirts and ups the average intensity, and the title track gets freaky before "East & West" calms things down again. The record wilts toward its conclusion, but its high points are angular, jarring and introspective. It's a collection of ideas brought to some interesting resolutions. Not all are pulled off, but none are left in the cold either. (Full Time Hobby)