Most Serene Republic ...And the Ever Expanding Universe

Most Serene Republic ...And the Ever Expanding Universe
Group pop songs need at least one of their constituent parts to be a hook; it's a rule. Most Serene Republic's hit-and-miss third album brandishes a surfeit of intriguing ideas yet occasionally struggles to find that essential infectiousness. "Bubble Reputation" starts with cinematic horns and an invigorating piano but falters in the staid chorus. Similarly, the amiable "Vessels of Donor Look" has a touch of psych, though little else. However, the band, under the stewardship of Arts and Crafts production guru Dave Newfeld, have put together a number of playful tapestries. Instrumental gambit "Patternicity" happily evokes Danny Elfman (seriously), with a tiptoeing melody and stringed flights of fancy. "Four Humours" speed-bags drums and piles on ethereal vocals, creating the most arresting push and pull on the disc, while underwater percussion and boy-girl interplay flirt compellingly on "Don't Hold Back, Feel a Little Longer." Ultimately it's an oft-palatable disc with enough jubilance to overcome its sporadic torpidity. (Arts and Crafts, www.arts-crafts.ca)
Scott Tavener
(Arts & Crafts)