Hooverphonic The Magnificent Tree

I'm a sucker for quality melodrama in dreamy pop music - hence, the likes of Portishead and Air being among my favourites. Hooverphonic can conjure up melodrama with the best of them, and that adult pop noir was the main source of the appeal of their previous pair of albums. Now, there's never been one spontaneous thing about Hooverphonic, and given their sub-genre, that's all right. But while being so meticulously crafted and wilfully constructed made their earlier work genuinely lovely and full of intrigue, The Magnificent Tree merely sounds overblown. There's something a little oily and almost creepy about how calculated it all sounds - as if it was made to order for some studio executive who had the most cartoonish of visions of how sophisticated, suspenseful and intense Euro-pop is supposed to sound. Coming across less as an album than an exercise in post-Bristol electronic pop textbook, The Magnificent Tree thuds where Hooverphonic used to thrill. (Sony)