On their second album Presents Exclusively Talentmaker, Optiganally Yours craft more dreamy, whimsical indie pop from ancient synths. This time, as the title suggests, the group works only with the Talentmaker, a keyboard that triggers celluloid discs with various sound effects and instruments recorded on them. The instrument's limitations work as a springboard for Rob Crow and Pea Hix's creativity; for example, the anti-jock-rock anthem "I'm Bad At Sports" is arranged for a tinny banjo and a bowling alley. However, the album isn't an excersise in quirkiness for quirkiness' sake -- though "Poodleman," a song about a nightmarish mullet, is reminiscent of They Might Be Giants' early work, and the very clever "Last Ride of the Pony Express" sounds like the theme from "Bonanza" accompanied by a telegraph. Indeed, many of the songs on Presents Exclusively Talentmaker are actually quite affecting, in a strangely playful way. The Talentmaker's blurred, distant sound lends itself to gently eerie, reflective tunes like the album opener "Oar," which builds on surf and seagull noises and shimmering chords, the looping, hypnotic instrumental "Guitar Song," and the brooding, organ-based "Song For America," which could've been recorded in a church from long ago and far away. Inbetween these extremes reside unique pop songs like the percolating, vaguely tropical "Geppetto" and the stuttering, elliptical "Figaro." Even the album's most straightforward tracks, such as the bouncy "Nonpartisan" and the gentle, bossa nova-influenced ballad "Held," aren't easily placed in any given time or style. Of course, it's these these traits that make Exclusively Talentmaker one of 2000's most cohesive and unique albums.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares