The Volta Sound

Dandelion Wine

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Yellow and green for the cover art, a plant-based product for an album name -- if the Volta Sound hadn't started their new album Dandelion Wine with a low-key acoustic strum/singalong redolent of hippie vibes, it would have been a strange thing indeed. Having already released a couple of enjoyable efforts, the Volta Sound's 2004 turn isn't quite their unplugged album but it does generally aim for a hazy, pleasant campfire singalong atmosphere spiked with a bit of Beatles-tinged psychedelia, thus the horn additions on songs like "There Is No Question" and the horn and flutes both on the merry "I Knew You'd Know," which is actually a pretty good dance number in its own way as well. The most beautiful song in that particular vein is easily "Goldilocks," with a deliciously rich blend of acoustic and electric guitars that's pure shimmer-in-the-sunlight joy. At points Dandelion Wine often compares favorably to the overarching vocal chorales of the Polyphonic Spree -- the Volta Sound may not have the constant Mike Curb Congregation fixation but that's actually an improvement. As a result, "I Love You," with its slow building but never over the top arrangements, and in a much quieter way, the concluding harmonies on "Three Two One," to name two examples, sway easily rather than overwhelmingly. They're not quite Amon Düül freak-outs and they're not Up With People-bland, instead finding a good blend of calm and bite. Best song title -- "Faustrock," as it takes a lot to make a double rock in-joke reference and actually come up with a good droned-and-stoned keyboard-led instrumental song to go with it. (Second best has to be the perfectly self-descriptive "Girls and Tambourines.") The amusing bonus award goes to the unlisted one-take acoustic cover of semi-sister band New Planet Trampoline's "Skeleton Key."

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