The Heavy Blinkers Heavy Blinkers

Halifax's the Heavy Blinkers could never be accused of hiding their influences - to say that they wear them on their sleeve would be an understatement. Even on their debut, Hooray For Everything, it was obvious that they has more than a passing love of the Beach Boys and Burt Bacharach, and their self-titled second album takes the band's inspirations further, much further. This is one of the most unabashed homages to both artists that I've heard, and it works very well. They use a wealth of different instruments and vocal harmonies to produce a rich, orchestrated sound on their finely crafted pop songs. The 21 songs cover a lot of ground, from slower, sadder songs to happy, bouncy tunes with around seven shorter "vignettes" that break up the flow of the album somewhat. Sometimes it feels a little too calculated - the band seems to have gone out of their way to keep the proceedings light and fluffy, and it can be too sugary sweet; a song about penny candy doesn't help with their defence either. Still, with such ambitious arrangements and the sheer wealth of material on show will likely make this one of the strongest Canadian releases this year. Just don't listen to it all in one sitting if you're a diabetic. (Brobdingnagian)