The Soundcarriers Harmonium

It really isn't obvious from their music that the Soundcarriers come from middle England, as they are bucking the trend of the return of guitar pop on that side of the Atlantic. Their debut, Harmonium, doesn't try to do anything but wear its influences on its sleeve, owing a huge debt to both the easy listening music of the '60s and its reinvention via the likes of Stereolab. They've definitely done their homework because there are moments that could quite easily have been stolen from Sergio Mendes or Os Mutantes, and they know how to veer off into those longer psychedelic grooves that have shoegazing influences. Although it's a little on the long side, the real issue with Harmonium is that it's remarkably earnest. There isn't the playfulness that made the Free Design a fun little diversion, and while there's no denying that the Soundcarriers are fine musicians with a nice variety of instruments at their disposal, their music comes across as sterile and very familiar. Harmonium is much easier to admire when you haven't heard it all before. (Melodic)