Koala Ko-Ordination

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Welsh quintet Zabrinski keeps up its often lush, increasingly more varied sound on the band's second album, as good a sign as any that the U.K.'s rock scene will be saved by the characters on the fringes in a new century. If nothing else, it's another feather in Ankst's cap, and considering the youth of the band, who knows where the group may yet go? Beginning with the skipping, fancy-free beats and wintry synth washes of "Blen," Koala Ko-Ordination again reflects the band's interest in both winsome neo-psych in a Flaming Lips vein as well as studies of electronic texture as both additional arrangements and the heart of many songs. This often results from the partnership of Iwan Morgan on keyboards and singer Matthew Durbridge, with the former providing just enough of a wild card in the arrangements to keep things on their toes, while the latter at many points doesn't sing much at all. Check out the squirrelly synth lines and skittering break beats on the title track or the use of chopped-up and distorted vocals on the slow-burning, brilliantly titled "Black Forest Science Fiction." Meanwhile, the appearance of both dub and drum'n'bass touches in "Pan Central," though hardly cutting-edge on the one hand, are more of an embrace of those approaches than most rock band's can manage, especially given the early 21st century's focus on nu-garage as the way forward. Durbridge and Gareth Richardson's sometimes just-freaked-out-enough guitar playing and the rhythm section's reasonable way around stomp and restraint ("Floodback" is a good example) don't hurt, either. Though comparisons to countrymen Super Furry Animals are understandable, there's a calmer, less gang-shout quality to Zabrinski's songs in general -- more akin to Hood than anything else, as with "Plus 3" -- that ensures they stand out all the more.

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