Not many albums show the influence of Steve Reich, Love, The Beatles and Paul Simon. Even fewer have, in addition, crazily self-mocking album titles and a comic-book cover. Add to that mix the rehabilitation of the banjo, and you're down to one album. This is a melodic, joyous and eclectic piece of work. Verges on whimsy in a faintly Belle-and-Sebastien way at times, but doesn't quite fall over the edge into syrup. Even chord sequences and fingerpicking patterns you've heard 101 times before (Casimir Pulaski Day) are lifted by real emotion and heart-on-sleeve lyrics ; this one sounds hearfelt and oddly moving, recapturing childhood innocence in a way which could so easily go into pure mush. Risky, but wonderful.
One previous review which baffled me was the one which said there was a shortage of melodies... another, more positive one says it's 'worth the effort'. No effort required ; it's packed with melodies, and they hit the spot from the very first play. Another review quite rightly mentions the rhythmic drive and inventiveness of some tracks ; try 'The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders' for a punchy rhythm which avoids rockist clichés. There's an engaging amateur-hour feel to some of the vocals and backing vocals, which is not to say they're out of tune, just that they sound and feel like real human voices, not massively treated and studio-enhanced ones.