Much has already been written about Kieran Hebden's previous output as Four Tet, with descriptions centred on 'pastoral', 'lilting' and the unwieldy tag 'folktronica'. Certainly, there is much that summons up the spirit of woodlands and countryside in his alchemical blend of sampled chimes, strings, guitars and rhythms; this is music for lying in the park on a sunny day. But along with the atmosphere that his music generates, there is another big difference between Four Tet and the majority of electronica / IDM / whatever's digital honk, blatt and skree: that difference is a bedrock in beautiful melodies. And Rounds is full of 'em.
Picking up the template laid down in 2001's Pause, Hebden hammers it into a different shape seemingly at every turn: the 'Neptunes on a banjo' stylings of single She Moves She give way to the life-support machine beats and frozen harps of My Angel Rocks Back and Forth, whilst album centrepiece Unspoken builds and builds into a mini-epic. In all these tunes and across the whole disc, melodies and musical motifs are scurrying around and popping up in unexpected places, circling and blossoming then being overlaid. In places this leads to a dizzying intensity of sound, and whilst Rounds may not have quite the stylistic variety of Pause (nothing as unexpected as No More Mosquitoes, for instance), it pays dividends in terms of consistency. And whilst this could soundtrack the sun rising over rolling hills, it'll also brighten up far more prosaic activities like going to work, or a long train journey, rewarding the listener with music that puts a sparkle into whatever you care to shine it against.