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Fog

Ditherer

(Lex; US: 18 Sep 2007; UK: 13 Aug 2007)

I can think of no higher praise than to say that Ditherer is somehow the bastard spawn of a three-way orgy between Mountain Goats, 10cc and Tortoise. There is no shock of the new here. Instead, many of the sounds are not-too-distant cousins of regular old ‘70s soft-rock (albeit the kind with obtuse, intelligent lyrics). But Fog shatter and distort familiar expectations. Their songs progress unpredictably, lurch into frenzied percussion and sublime harmony, descend without warning into blissful fadeouts, refresh time and space more deftly than Gastr del Sol, drop incongruous lyrics onto a comforting groove more convincingly than Wilco—never deserting harmony or melody. All of which ensures that the album needs a couple of listens to get into but, after several more, still refuses to reveal its secrets. The title track, as well as “We Will Have Vanished”, and especially “On the Gallows” stand out beautifully on a record of genre-defying brilliance. It may not be too early to suggest that Fog’s evolution since 2002 suggests a creative arc similar to the long rise of The Flaming Lips. A cursory listen to Ditherer could lead to the (mistaken) conclusion that it is a disjointed affair. On the contrary, this is a superbly crafted offbeat pop record, possibly this year’s most thrilling blend of lyrical seriousness, harmonic nuance, cleverness and fun.

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