Land of the Loops

Bundle of Joy

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Alan Sutherland, aka Land of the Loops, can't really decide what genre he wants to be a part of on Bundle of Joy. That's not really a bad thing, as these tracks give the impression that they're supposed to be background music for video game playing or some other modern time-wasting activity. Sometimes Bundle of Joy suggests Land of the Loops is a doppelgänger of His Name Is Alive from back in that band's Livonia and Mouth by Mouth era. More than a few tracks, including "Growing Concern," "I Confess," and "My Head (Leaks)," sound exactly like His Name Is Alive songs. Those songs feature creepy, childlike vocals over spooky, shuffling electronics. Other times, as on "Mass. Ave. and Beyond," Sutherland appears to be doing a Seefeel impersonation. To top off these influences, the album sporadically employs samples in an attempt to lighten the mood; the only problem is that the samples aren't as funny as intended. Half of the songs are pop-oriented and catchy; the other half are moody, ambient numbers. It's not an entirely successful blend of the two musical forms. "Mathematical Park," for instance, really doesn't go anywhere, and it's hard for any album to keep making the switch from one song demanding close listener attention to another song meant as simple wallpaper. Cornelius attempted this same sort of mishmash of pop and electronic aesthetics on Fantasma, to far greater success. The standout track -- if only for the New Order meets Cibo Matto via His Name Is Alive effect -- is the charming, almost too-sweet "Heidi Cakes." Sutherland has created a fine genre piece here; the only problem is that it spans two different genres, making the entire affair half successful and half annoying, depending on what mood you're in at the time. It wouldn't be as much of a problem if the album had more original pleasures, instead of so many tracks that simply mirror the band's peers.

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