The Gift Machine's second album is a little crunchier and a little (only a little) less poppy than their debut. But like their first CD, it's intelligent, well-done indie pop, if not quite the kind of thing that unshakably sticks in your craw. There's something of a late-'60s/early-'70s vibe to the melodies and harmonies but a thicker texture to the guitars, indebted both to power pop and later post-punk heavy chording. They're adept at combining fairly hard guitar rock arrangements with higher harmonies than most such bands employ, though the Beach Boys influence heard on some of their debut has decreased here. The lyrics are clever and whimsical, though not inescapably direct in their hits, and the arrangements intelligently varied to incorporate some acoustic guitars, keyboards, and wiggly electronics. "Calliope the Biblesalesperson" is the most outrageous title, on a track filtered to sound like an old 78 record, though it sounds rather like a Badfinger demo under the trickery. "Rock and Roll Debut" offers a refreshing twist on the "we're an American band" school of lyric writing, with its deadpan tale of refusal to play a debut gig if it means having to be a cover band. The bandmembers are not trying too hard for their own good, unlike a lot of outfits in a similar boat, which for that reason actually gives them an edge on many groups going into similar territory.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger