The record has a (mostly) cold and detached pop-prog sound, with dark lyrical overtones and electronic bleeps and bloops giving things a sense of melancholy; it's somewhere between Islands and David Bowie's Berlin Trilogy period, complete with two dystopian instrumentals that evoke Low and Heroes' second sides. At 13 tracks, you could argue that the record feels a little overstuffed, with multiple mid-tempo tracks in a row resulting in a bit of fatigue towards the back half, but when it hits, it hits hard, and early album highlights "Love Is Stranger" and "Witch Window" will appeal to fans of any of Thorburn's past projects.
On "Something About the Moon," Thorburn sings, "You were wrong / The dream is over / The magic is gone." If this is a sly comment on the fact that his time in the indie spotlight with his former band appears to have passed, City of Quartz shows he isn't content to merely rehash past glories. You can keep your Unicorns nostalgia; Thorburn's interested in darker paths, and you'd be wise to follow. (Manque)