Norman, Oklahoma's Starlight Mints are a perfect example of why bigger isn't better. Beginning in 2000 as a seven-piece, complete with orchestra, the inevitable (and hometown) comparison was the Flaming Lips. The Mints seemed content with such an association, creating dubiously weird "pop" that was about as manageable as a fistful of eels. The band's newest, Drowaton, scales things back just enough to remain peculiar but in a more approachable context. There's still a hell of a mess going on in tracks such as "What's Inside of Me?" and "Seventeen Devils," but the focus is thankfully on the songs not the inherent eccentricity of the personalities involved. Vocalist Allan Vest remains an acquired taste, somehow walking the line between buffoonery and brilliance, but the band reins him in just enough to create art that doesn't come off as snooty, an inspired withdrawal from pretension and excess.
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