El-Creepo!

El-Creepo!

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El-Creepo!, the debut release by Polkadot Cadaver frontman Todd Edward Smith's solo project of the same name, tries to capture a sense of wry, twisted sentiments within mostly lighter music. But whether it fully succeeds is something of an open question. For the most part -- but as the album continues, less and less prominently -- Smith aims for a kind of quiet, understated '60s guitar art-pop that touches on a variety of inspirations, from Lee Hazlewood's spooked-out country on "Skeleton House" to the groovy samba-like swirl of "Orange Peel Sunrise" and plenty of hints of Brian Wilson throughout the album in general. El-Creepo! features winsome singing, soft harmonies, and -- more clearly at some points than others -- unsettled and sometimes bitter lyrics about problems with life and love, and off-the-beaten-track concerns with both. The net effect ends up recalling Belle & Sebastian's early work more than might be guessed (or perhaps even intended), but this in turn gets upset when blasts of quick Mr. Bungle-style thrash/clown metal start surfacing on "The Art of Bullfighting" and "Hitman." But rather than providing more interest through variety, the end result of that shift is a bit deadening.

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