While Immaculate Machine struck a graceful balance between their lighter folk influences and tough rock guitar on their earlier sides, with their third album, 2007's Fables, the group has learned to bring its two sides together almost seamlessly. On Fables, Brooke Gallupe's scrappy, energetic guitar lines have calmed down just a bit without robbing them of their melodic drive or lift, and Luke Kozlowski's drumming has gained some muscle and dynamic presence that complements Gallupe's work nicely. Kathryn Calder's keyboards and vocals remain lovely and emotionally telling, and the group's songwriting has hit a new peak on Fables -- these are clever, whip-smart pop tunes performed with exemplary craft and a joy that keeps the slicker moments from ever sounding formulaic. Though the group and producers John Collins and David Carswell have brought in some ringers for these sessions -- string players, lots of backing harmonies, even a musical saw on one track -- the finished product still sounds admirably intimate and straightforward, and these stories have gained a greater level of emotional maturity without losing touch with the group's youthful spunk (dozens of bands have written songs about what a drag their nowhere home town is, but "Nothing Ever Happens" is one of the first to make it sound like they've learned to alchemize boredom into fun all by themselves). Fables is a richly enjoyable album from a band that continues to grow in exciting and pleasurable ways.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming