Various Artists

Afternoon Tea Music: Darjeeling

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The best compilations are often the ones that on paper seem to have absolutely no way of working: assemblies of disparate, left-field cuts with a seemingly complete disregard for rhyme or reason -- yet they all somehow lock together like pieces of a puzzle, as though each cut was created for the purpose of sharing space with the others. Afternoon Tea Music: Darjeeling is arguably the most eclectic and entertaining entry in the series, astounding in its sheer scope and reach -- differences of language, generation, and genre mean nothing here, and the songs all share a common effervescence and easygoing grace to create a uniform soundtrack perfect for lazy summer days. Highlights span from Nick Drake's atypically playful "Man in a Shed" to Ruby & the Romantics' sultry "Hunting Each Other" to Chris Montez's earnest "The Face I Love" -- and best of all, like all volumes in the series, the cover sports its own beverage coaster.

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