Beginning with the rumbling and enjoyably bass-heavy "Woodpecker Greeting Worker Ant" -- a title that may explain the air of gentle threat throughout, despite the concluding voices of winsome cheer -- Signal Morning finds a veteran of Olivia Tremor Control, Will Cullen Hart, with help from not only all his former bandmates but fellow travelers from Neutral Milk Hotel, returning to the Circulatory System name after a break of eight years. The fact that one of those fellow travelers is Jeff Mangum will be reason enough for that performer's rabid cult to take an interest, but this is neither a supergroup nor a full reunion of Hart's older band. It's just Hart working within the psych/experimental/indie vein that made Elephant 6 a byword for many (and which helped lay the groundwork for the even wider acceptance of acts like Animal Collective), though there is something unusual about hearing a performer now working with influences at two times' remove -- the late-'60s period of randomly playful and experimental rock that helped drive the Elephant 6 collective forward and that own scene's now decade-plus legacy. As a result, songs like "This Morning (We Remembered Everything)" and "Blasting Through," though enjoyable, simply aren't as much surprises or striking new steps as they are reinventions and revisitations -- chaotic arrangements that turn on a dime, sweetly voiced melodies, intentional burying of clean hooks, and sudden contrasts between songs and performances. One of Hart's sharpest decisions is to keep everything short -- 17 songs over the course of 45 minutes, which if not quite Ramones level is still pretty brisk -- while ensuring each piece has its own individual character (thus "Electronic Diversion" really does sound like that).
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett