With its combination of laid-back acoustics and psychedelic mumblings, Gorgeous Johnny is a soundtrack for lazy, hazy summer days. The Skygreen Leopards have trod this path before, coloring their avant-garde pop songs with banjos, homespun percussion, rickety harmonies, and other elements of folk music. Like the albums that preceded it, Gorgeous Johnny is similarly earthy and sepia-toned, but its 13 tracks also hint at the band's maturing ability to write a concise, clear-cut hook. Where mood once reigned supreme, melody now resides, sharing equal space with the lo-fi polish that coats all Skygreen albums. "Goodnight Ana" combines British Invasion-styled whimsy with a syrup-slow tempo, "Dixie Cups in the Dead Grass" bounces along unapologetically, and "Johnny's Theme" eschews vocals entirely, relying on swirling organ and interwoven guitar lines to evoke a blissed-out, pastoral landscape. As before, founders Donovan Quinn and Glenn Donaldson are the album's chief architects, co-writing all the songs and handling multiple instruments in the process. Jason Quever also makes an appearance, having previously collaborated with the group during 2006's Disciples of California, and vocalist Elisa Ambroglio lends her voice to "SGL's, Et Al," a harmony-laden lullaby strengthened by a welcomely out of tune piano. Gorgeous Johnny may be too well crafted for the band's traditional-leaning fans, but its highlights are hard to resist.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey