Initial impressions, and all that ...
And then I listened again and my thoughts changed.
And then again - in fact I've listened 5 or 6 times before finally coming to a conclusion.
Initially, I wasn't too sure - the first couple of tracks ("The Noisy Days Are Over" and "Disappointed") were direct winners sounding like a cross between Devo and Talking Heads with a lolloping funk groove underpinning it.
These two tracks tread similar musical ground, but then the album opens up and I was a bit wrong-footed by it. I'll admit to be slightly underwhelmed by it, and it took a couple more listens to reveal itself in all its diverse charms.
Plainly, this album focuses on the Songwriting and production - it is a very direct album, and although it took a while to "get", once you're in it is strangely satisfying. A note of warning however - for all its upfront diversity, and if this makes any sense, its lack of stretch in that diversity can become a little wearing.
It probably sounds better, and becomes more accessible, in mid-summer than the depths of a freezing cold winter, but one can't help but be drawn in.
Excuse the phrase, but there is a wide musical palette here - from the funky-popped-up Steely Dan (It's A Good Thing"), to the plaintive ("The Morning Is Waiting For You"), to the cinematic ("Trouble At The Lights").
Pick a genre, it's probably covered here - ELO, Queen, Steely Dan, 10CC, 70s Laurel Canyon, Yacht Rock,Prog, Jazz, Funk - they all make an appearance somewhere.
Later tracks "Indeed It Is" and "Same Name" smack a bit of filler but are not un-necessary. The final track is what final tracks should be - "Stay Awake" borders on the epic, but never really achieves this. A fine song to close the album, but I just wanted it to break out and explode a little.
Is it a great album? To be honest I'm not sure - either I haven't listened intently enough, or it is just the wrong season for it.
May not be earth-shatteringly great, but it certainly piques my interest enough to explore their back catalogue further.