The Soundcarriers Celeste

A cursory glance at the cover of Nottingham's the Soundcarriers' second album suggests they're still caught up in their worship of the '60s easy listening scene, nailing the artwork of the time perfectly. But things have taken a step forward for the band. While their first album was too caught up in their more obvious influences to be any more than a very earnest homage, Celeste is a much more confident record, with the band beginning to come into their own. It also finally shows that they have a sense of humour, with some amusing sleeve notes poking fun at themselves. It might initially appear like no lessons were learned from the last album, as opener "Last Broadcast" is the best Stereolab song Stereolab never wrote, with its driving Krautrock groove and effortless vocal harmonies. But it isn't typical of the rest of the record, the majority of which is spectacularly laidback. With equal parts the Free Design and Can mixed into a wonderfully jazzy record that's the perfect summer soundtrack, Celeste is light years ahead of its predecessor. It will be interesting to see where they go next. (Melodic)