The Simples Already Gone Magnolias

Vancouver musician Sean McLaughlin is the sole brain trust of the Simples. Writing, arranging and performing everything save drums (by Joe Fazio) and trumpet, with some keys and vocals by Eartha-ann Hanson, McLaughlin displays a remarkable knack for composition. The crashing opening of "Building a Wall” recalls the epic tenderness of Coldplay’s strongest moments but delivered with greater force. For every mature pop tendency visited with impeccable professionalism there is a matching diversion into more varied territory, like the sputtering electronics and trip-hop groove at the end of track three. Delicate folk strumming and muggy summertime melodies are as delicious to gulp down as fresh lemonade in the blistering heat, but never expect the Simples to rest too long in a comfort zone. Entering the album’s final third, "Makin’ Mary Ann” touches briefly on the rock conventions that make Interpol popular before diving back into a lucid pool of ambient piano balladry and electro pop experiments. Already Gone Magnolias is a great album to share with a loved one at bedtime. (Independent)