A set of captivating songs that Bill Nelson originally recorded as demos for an album project -- he notes that he attempted to keep the recordings relatively lo-fi to avoid the possibility of releasing them in this form. Being Nelson, however, the demos were dense and detailed enough to easily pass for final recordings, and he was eventually convinced to release them as Atom Shop. Curiously enough, developing this project caused Nelson to begin developing another project, a six-CD box set entitled Noise Candy. Atom Shop works well for the most part, showing off the clever sides of Nelson's songwriting, while providing some fine examples of his guitar playing (via some remarkably obscure antique guitars at that). The one cut that fails to work outright is "Billy Infinity," where the autobiographical impulse appears to give way to embarrassment at creating such a song -- he misses the celebratory point completely, even though the number caters entirely to the '50s-futurist image that Nelson so often returns to. Other cuts display distinct weaknesses in the vocals (rarely Nelson's strong point, anyway) that would have benefited from a few extra passes in the studio. Overall, Atom Shop is an enjoyable outing, but far from Nelson's best.
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AllMusic Review by Steven McDonald