This album will disappoint a lot of people. Gone are the hit singles, simple melodies, standard song structures, and in are sonic experiments, unpredictable songs, and psychedelia. To say it's a complete departure is I think to have missed many of the undertones of the first album, but it is still a departure.
While many of the vocal melodies are still subtly poppy, the musical background has become a woozy landscape, drenched in very non-commercial psychedelic sounds and production. Actually, it's very reminiscent of the best of experimental 60's psychedelia - 'West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band,' and 'The United States Of America' spring to mind as much as modern psychedelic-pop bands like 'The Flaming Lips' when listening to it. They really have dispensed with the big radio singles (as they said they were going to, and as other reviews here complain about), which is commercial suicide, but that's more than ok with me when they make the music this beautifully detached. It also obliterates the arguments of those who criticised the first album for being simply repetitive, 2-dimensional and irritating. While I really liked the first album I also found it patchy, largely got old quite quickly, and I ultimately stopped listening to it after a few months, feeling as though i'd already exhausted it. However, this album feels like a journey. There's not a bad song on it, and it's grown on me more with every listen. While i'll only ever re-play the odd track on Oracular Spectacular, I think that I may end up playing this album for some time to come, as it offers so much more!
Those who loved the indie-club friendly melodies will be disappointed, but this is an album which should be compared with the likes of The Flaming Lips rather than Lady Gaga, and for me that is no bad thing.