Personally speaking, I always thought that they were a bit of an acquired taste. I mean, what they did was unique and distinctive, but it also either resonated with you or went completely over your head. All the critics foaming at the mouth and consulting their thesauruses didn't help either - it made you feel like a bit of a philistine if you didn't agree.
I didn't like their early work at all, but thought they got better, particularly from "Heaven Or Las Vegas" onwards. I mention all this as, to my undevoted ears, this album very much sounds like a continuation of their later work if they'd carried on. But it's merely okay, probably not as spangly or ethereal as CT and maybe a bit lumpen and plodding in places. "All Wishes Are Ghosts" instantly stands out by a mile in the way it builds and takes off.
What is slightly alarming is how much Stephanie sounds like Liz Fraser. I have Stephanie's two solo albums prior to this release and her voice is much more personal and singular to her; here she mostly sings in the upper register and sounds uncannily like Liz. I don't know whether it was her decision or Simon's to do this. Maybe anyone who works with Simon automatically goes through some sort of voice wizardry and instantly sounds like Liz Fraser. Shame he didn't work with Barry White!
Anyhow, I'm giving four stars mostly for the second remix disc. I suspect that many will only ever listen to it once and never play it again, but it really is an absolute treat. It mainly consists of heavy dub excursions or beatless ambient soundscapes with snatches or fragments of vocals looped and endlessly repeated, which is right up my musical street. If you can imagine Cocteau Twins remixed by The Orb, then that would give you some idea of what to expect.
RX Gibbs, whoever that is, has done a glorious job on previously rather unmemorable tunes such as "Porcelain" and "Heart Of The Woods" taking you into the outer reaches of the musical Universe. Crucially, he/she/they also don't ruin "All Wishes Are Ghosts" and make it even more soaring and uplifting.
It's an interesting artistic decision to make to hand over your album to be reimagined in this way, because it does expose your original work's flaws and weaknesses. I actually much prefer the remix disc and would recommend getting this album purely for this, especially as it's not available on its own, just as part of the 2-disc package.
This is truly an album of beautiful songs beautifully recorded (I can't say so much for the re-mix disc that comes with it I'm afraid) and would be a worthy addition to any collection of 'dream pop' Owww! rats! I've already fallen into the trap of categorizing it. I worry that this is an album that is going to be judged on all sorts of levels - due to it's members lineage - rather than on it's own merits. But just enjoy it for what it is. A perfect soundtrack to a sunny afternoon. An antidote to life's stresses. a simple pleasure. Personal favourite ; I heard the owl call my name. More please Simon and Sophie.