The ninth album proper from Sean O’Hagan’s High Llamas finds them, fans will be pleased to learn, covering much the same territory as on 2000’s Buzzle Bee. The acoustic, pared-down nature of 2003’s Beet, Maize & Corn is once more replaced by strings that only O’Hagan can pull off behind the cutely familiar parp-parp of his band.
From opener The Old Spring Town, through to the pun-tastic Summer Seen, this is High Llamas doing what many consider to be ‘their thing’. With the possible exception of Stereolab and Jim O’Rourke, no one sounds like the Llamas. No other band puts in quite as much effort to pay homage to Brian Wilson, bossa nova and a summery shimmer unheard elsewhere on the current music scene. Indeed, with innocent, artsand- craft lyrics such as “We say hi to the rivers and the mountains”, High Llamas operate outside popular convention.
Can Cladders is doubtless a record to please older fans, but there’s something sad about it remaining only in the collections of the usual select few. Three years of work has gone into this project, and it is highly successful, but you can’t help wishing it would reach a larger audience. Pop as it should be.