The seventh album by these Welsh baroque-pop mavericks refines their flamboyant songcraft in one grandiose, candy-coated, 54-minute package. Far more adventurous and fun (and less maudlin) than recent efforts by peers like Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips, Love Kraft slyly alludes to several classic-rock touchstones (Beatles, Nilsson, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) and behind-the-scenes geniuses like Van Dyke Parks and David Axelrod, without seeming obnoxiously imitative. If you can tolerate lyrics that often flirt with gibberish ("Kiss me with Apocalypse" -- no thanks), you will be nearly overwhelmed by the Animals' kaleidoscopic refraction of Nixon-era rock-and-pop conventions. These loopy Welshmen miraculously rejuvenate styles we thought had been consigned to Oasis and musty AOR stations. It's a feat as remarkable as erasing the wrinkles from Keith Richards's mug.
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