The Cardigans, Starsailor, Silver Jews, DangerDoom, Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom
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The Cardigans/
Silver Jews/
Delia Gonzales
& Gavin Russom

[The Mail On Sunday, 2005]

THE SCANDINAVIAN KNACK of running familiar pop styles through an odd set of filters is nicely demonstrated by The Cardigans - so nearly just another indie-rock band; but crucially, not quite. The difference is embodied in their acerbic coquette of a singer, Nina Persson, mistress of the backhanded slap. It's always a merry diversion to pick the bones out of their tart, compact, deceptively sinewy songs; and seldom more so than on Super Extra Gravity (Polydor ***).
 Starsailor, alas, are proving to be just another indie-rock band. Their overwrought bluster, always hard to take in large doses, has certainly had its redeeming moments; but few of those are to be found on On The Outside (EMI *) When an album makes for such hard going with so little reward, it's best to leave it alone.
 Silver Jews are one David Berman and whatever American lo-fi luminaries have joined him on any given outing. Mainman plus alterno supergroup pals, effectively. When you consider just how awful that could be, it's all the more reason to treasure Tanglewood Numbers (Drag City ****), the latest in a fine catalogue. Gruff, rollicking, terse, tuneful and blessed with songs (and song titles) as good as Punks In The Beerlight, this is a raw boned, bristle-jawed charmer of a record.
 Danger Mouse, Gorillaz producer and creator of the brilliant Jay Z/Beatles bootleg The Grey Album, has teamed up with rap innovator MF Doom to create DangerDoom's The Mouse And The Mask (Lex ***). Although not the best venture you'll hear from either, it's still highly listenable and a great deal of fun - imaginative, comics-obsessed, and deftly executed.
 From out of left-field come performance artists Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom with The Days Of Mars (DFA ***). Some may hear in it just four long tracks of humming and throbbing. I found it oddly compelling. For all its experimental aspirations, it's really very retro - reminiscent of Tangerine Dream and the more abstract parts of Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond, minus the chilly grandeur.

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