High Llamas

Talahomi Way

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished Apr 12, 2011

Question: if Sean O'Hagan spends his time away from the High Llamas creating arrangements for artists like Gruff Rhys, Sondre Lerche and Stereolab, why doesn't he just keep the best for himself? Well, it seems that O'Hagan crafts each project to mirror his current musical state-of-mind. That's why every album London, England's the High Llamas release sounds remarkably nostalgic and of-the-moment. Talahomi Way, their ninth LP, remains heavily indebted to Smile-era Beach Boys, the Free Design and Tropicália, but this time around O'Hagan's gentlest arrangements make for his best material. There's still swelling strings on songs like the Wurlitzer-assisted "Fly Baby, Fly" and the Bacharach-approved "Calling Up, Ringing Down," but it's the sparse arrangements of "The Ring of Gold" and the Norman Rockwell harmonica intro on "A Rock in May" that truly represent what O'Hagan was shooting for this time around, allowing the arrangers to tell the story on Talahomi Way.
(Drag City)

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