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Tom Hagerman

Idle Creatures

(Paper Garden; US: 6 Dec 2011; UK: Import)

I wish the music were worse, because he keeps cutting it short, or shorter than it had to be. There he goes, this member of DeVotchKa, with a clarinet, a waltz swing, nubbly accordion, music for domestic boudoir gypsies—glowing, gleaming, romantic, I mean, but essentially trim—a swoon woken up by dry handclaps or the pink-p’tink of fiddle-strings—part-velvet, part-circus, overall moreish and enjoyable, though this is also because it feels pastiche’d together from friendly influences, and there’s a teasing moment when the fiddle impersonates a duck—but track one is just starting to get up steam when it’s killed and replaced by a very different track two, and the same thing happens several times after that. Also, and this might not be the same for other people, but I think it’s impossible now to pull off that gossamer chorus work without reminding the listener of a Danny Elfman soundtrack. In a fairer world that would not be so but here we are.

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