Buried beneath the found sounds and homemade instruments of the intriguing debut from London five piece Flotation Toy Warning are songs of quiet but epic remorse. Frontman Donald Drusky has one hell of a wail--a yearning, nearly operatic tone, not far removed from Roy Orbison--and behind him, FTW's engineers and inventors twiddle, tweak and sample until the tracks almost succumb to the weight of overindulgence. Yet it's this sense of near-destruction, built by the sheer physicality of Drusky's delivery and the band's solid, rhythmic pulse, that keeps Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck honest and secure. Such lengthy, sad songs have rarely sounded so cheerful. In particular, "Popstar Researching Oblivion" and "Happiness is on the Outside" debunk the common (and erroneous) comparison to the Flaming Lips, as FTW avoids the manic moments of the Lips with smoother, layered sounds. Really, a more apt comparison would be to The Arcade Fire or a less literate--and less pretentious--Decemberists, as opening cut "Happy 13" deconstructs classic, '60s-style pop with post-modern aplomb. Bluffer's Guide is somehow both baroque and experimental, and its refreshing lack of precision is accomplished by a band of educated folk who know better.
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