Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Montreal's The Unicorns are here to remind the world that the New Pornographers are not the only Canadian pop band that's actually worth hearing. This funky homemade psych glam pop is quite the treat across the span of their Alien8 debut, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone, with a semi-fractured whimsy that sounds visionary despite its meager origins. There are few bands who've hit me like this in recent years. Olivia Tremor Control is one. Guided By Voices is another before them, and Captain Beefheart before them. This album plays like a dime store carousel, freshly dusted, polished and retrofitted with new sparkly lights. There's vitality to burn on tracks like opener, "I Don't Want to Die," with its Zombies-like piano bounce, the slow-burning organ groove of "Tuff Ghost" and the Guided By Voices worthy pop crunch of "The Clap," but what pushes the whole affair up a notch, aside from the occasional Beefheart freakout, are the warm and silly sing-alongs like "Child Star" and the absurdly infectious "I Was Born (a Unicorn)" which offer a great deal of pop smarts, intelligence and a camaraderie worthy of your favorite tag-team freak pop ensembles while sounding kind of fresh and unique at the same time with a production that screams for volume. This CD quite simply makes me feel lucky to be alive. If you don't have enough records like that in your collection, Who Will Cut Our Hair might just fill the void.

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