The Jigsaw Seen

Bananas Foster

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How does L.A. band the Jigsaw Seen turn out such carefully crafted, magisterial collections of ‘60s-influenced tunes? For one thing, they take their time. There was a decade-long gap between Bananas Foster and the Seen's last album of original material, Zenith, and nine years between that release and its predecessor. But much like the dessert for which this album is named, the band's music has to be lovingly prepared to let all the ingredients blend properly. The Jigsaw Seen's musical home base is the ambitious baroque pop style that came out of their own hometown as well as the U.K. in the ‘60s, and while there are several variations on that sound throughout Bananas Foster, there are also some excursions slightly further afield into other aspects of the band's ‘60s inspirations as well. So even though the likes of "David Hart's Name of Song" and "Melancholy Morning" overflow with an orchestral pop glory that evokes everything from the Beach Boys to the Zombies at their respective baroque pop peaks, there's also the Joe Meek-does-crime-jazz-in-outer-space instrumental "Tonight's Episode," the raw-boned, fuzz-laden garage rock of "Where the Action Isn't," and the dramatic psych-folk of "Cave Canem." Whatever musical mode they find themselves in, though, the Seen seem to retain a consistently quirky, often absurdist sense of humor in their lyrics that easily sets them apart from their psych-pop revival peers. Not that the songs don't carry their weight on the melodic side -- with Dennis Davison and Jonathan Lea doing most of the heavy lifting themselves on a multitude of instruments, the tracks here are full of graceful, elegant arrangements and memorable moments.

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