Rafter Sex, Death, Cassette

While the weirdness of 2007’s Music for Total Chickens caught listeners off guard, Rafter have toned things down slightly for Sex, Death, Cassette, which trades in the loco for some cool horn parts and infectious pop songs. In fact, various parts of this record are simply ingenious: "Zzzpenchant” and "Love Time Now Please” are ridiculously fun, upbeat doses of sweet musical dizziness whose power lies in their primal technological simplicity. "Slay Me” goes after the blues with fresh style and the vigour that Iron and Wine have conveyed in recent years. Still, it’s the veneer of cheeriness in songs like "Breeze” and "No-one Home Ever” that’s most surprising for Rafter. The darker grunge stomp of "Thunderclap” or cheesy synth outbursts of "Tropical” are to be expected but even these are infused with a bit more reverence and refinement. Sex, Death, Cassette is by no means safe and sound but for Rafter, it’s an accomplished and thoughtful effort of new pop experimentation that’s endearing right off the bat. (Asthmatic Kitty)