A gorgeous basement epic, The Graceful Fallen Mango was recorded by Dave Longstreth on a four-track and computer on his own, save for a few guest appearances by members of Wolf Colonel and Dear Nora. With vocals that seem to have been genetically engineered from strands of Paul McCartney, Ian McCulloch, Jeff Buckley, Freddie Mercury, and Elvis Costello, Longstreth's songs are full of mournful and soaring, if sometimes off-kilter, melodies that far exceed the album's modest origins. While some songs are lush, elaborately orchestrated with armies of misfit instruments calling to mind a psychedelic Pet Sounds at times, others ("Lay Down Restless Bones," "Time for Bed," and "Follow Me Not If You Still Care") are sparse, populated only by Longstreth's haunting vocals and acoustic guitars (and perhaps a stray keyboard), the result being akin to timeless pub-honed lullabies. Probably the album's most stripped-down offering, "Lay Down Restless Bones," may also be its strongest. This is not to say that the rest of the album lacks beauty, merely that on this song Longstreth's heart seems less obscured and more vulnerable, especially near the end as his voice shakes and he pleads "lay down your restless bones and sleep." A bit more "rock" in its construction, "Easily Resigned" calls to mind similarly quirky outfits like the Gerbils with Andy Partridge fronting, and a more raucous, noisy number like "She Turns to Ash" has a spark of curiosity and inventiveness similar to that which fueled the early releases of Guided By Voices. The album's title track is just over a minute's worth of looped guitar swells, keyboard meandering, and tick-tocking, all of which seems a bit Pink Floydian in nature. Overall, The Graceful Fallen Mango is an endearing collection of lovely, poetic pieces mostly drawn together by Longstreth's remarkable vocals. Truly unique and timeless in nature, this is one of those great albums that could just as easily be a new creation as a rediscovered classic, which is a lovely quality in a record like this.
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