After a three-year absence, Dumbing Up marks the return of leader Karl Wallinger, and he manages to recapture the magic of previous efforts such as Goodbye Jumbo and Bang! During Wallinger's hiatus, interest in the band had grown after their song "She's the One" became a hit for British pop star Robbie Williams. For the most part, Wallinger delivers, ably demonstrating his considerable strengths as a writer, arranger, and lyricist. The album is a mix of influences, but chief among them is Bob Dylan. Several songs, such as "Who Are You," feature bare-boned guitar arrangements that let the wordplay stand out. Other '60s influences abound. The lead single, "Here Comes the Future," is an intriguing bit of retro-soul while "Another 1000 Years" plays like a Beatles ballad. After a lackluster 1997 release, Egyptology, Wallinger redeems himself with an agreeable album that is more comforting than it is groundbreaking.
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AllMusic Review by Jon Azpiri