Cocoon of Love

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Similar to their previous release, 2008's Bloomsbury EP, Princeton's second full-length album, Cocoon of Love, is as bright and bubbly as it is poised, full of delicate harpsichord flourishes, prim string sections, and warm Tropicalia/Afro-beat-influenced guitar work. Released on Kanine Records, this is the first album Princeton haven't put out themselves, and as such it sounds a bit more domesticated than the band's previous work. They've adopted some sleek sonic trappings, including a drum machine and some chic synthesizers, and there are a few moments when they sound practically Handsome Furs-ish ("Martina and Clive Krantz," "Worried Head"). But even if Cocoon of Love shuffles half-heartedly in the direction of sounding all cool and serious, it's saved by Princeton's penchant for quirky storytelling and super-sweet pop hooks -- something they share with the equally mannered and multi-instrumental group No Kids. To put it another way, Princeton are delectably dorky. This isn't the zany, manic dweebiness of They Might Be Giants, mind you -- it's more like a gentle, dusty air of studiousness ("The Wild"). They also sound sweetly old-fashioned; "Sadie & Andy" has hints of the Four Seasons' "Sherry" about it, and "Show Some Love, When Your Man Gets Home" has a backbone of slow-burning, Righteous Brothers-style balladry. Cocoon of Love isn't as unselfconscious as Bloomsbury -- it's far less playful, ramshackle, and stagey -- but it still offers up a strong impression of who Princeton are and what they're about: gorgeous pop hooks, delightful little storylines, and a heaping helping of band-geeky multi-instrumentalism.

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