Recorded with the help of Welsh production guru Gorwel Owen and featuring past guests Simon James and Martin Smith from the Wizards of Twiddly throughout on various brass and wind instruments, Barafundle found Gorky's merrily coming to grips with major-label status without a worry. If anything, Barafundle did showcase where the band would go in future years, toning down the crazier side of the group in favor of a calmer, more quietly inventive approach, though not without some high-volume parts. John Lawrence still keeps the fractured side of things going, though it's no surprise he would leave after a couple more albums, taking the more overtly "mushroom" qualities with him -- he still gets in some fun zingers here, though, including the nutty "The Wizard and the Lizard." Otherwise, though, this is an album soundtracking rural Welsh summers that may only exist in myth, but still work well for that. The two singles from the album are both great -- "Diamond Dew," a folk/psych trip with a nicely rocking chorus, and "Patio Song," a winning stroll through winsome romance spiked with just the right odd bits ("isn't it a lovely day?/my patio's on fire"). The album as a whole merrily moves along, bringing in a bit of drama here and there ("The Barafundle Bumbler" and its just-edgy-enough verses, the full on electric crunch of "Meirion Wyltt") but otherwise things are sweetly sedate, as with the instrumental "Cursed, Coined and Crucified." Childs' singing is as wonderful as always -- the man was just born to sing in that gentle, honeyed fashion -- while Lawrence's no less fine vocals add just the right glaze to songs like the suddenly medieval "Starmoonsun" and "Sometimes the Father is the Son." U.S. versions added the later single "Young Girls and Happy Endings" as a bonus.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett