When Badly Drawn Boy debuted in 2000, critics celebrated his ability to mask gorgeous pop songs within a garbage dump full of musical dead-ends and production cast-offs. When he revealed himself, with the About a Boy soundtrack, as simply a new breed of singer/songwriter (a la Elvis Costello), the path was clear for Fog's Andrew Broder to take the mantle of creator of the most seriously warped pop to appear on a high-profile label. His second record, Ether Teeth, is a record that practically demands a set of headphones to fully appreciate it. Concentrated listening is the only way to reconcile the long passages of ambience with the bracing pop songs that often interrupt the proceedings. For the opener, "Plum Dumb," Broder drapes a fine layer of atmospherics over some far-away scratching, guitar, banjo pickings, and snippets of a trad vocal chorus. It's rudely interrupted by the second track, "What a Day Day," a deft, intricate pop song cloaked by Broder's impossibly direct delivery; his thin, reedy voice; an assortment of found sounds; and its hurried, purposefully shambling tempo. Nearly every time you risk the thought that he's simply an impossibly lo-fi Badly Drawn Boy who doesn't want to write pop songs -- and thus sabotages them with arrhythmic guitar; close mics, hunt-and-peck piano playing, bleating trumpet, or people talking over his songs -- a track will suddenly burst into full electro-symphonic glory and reveal itself as an intriguing composition with undeniable melodic and harmonic power. Granted, this only happens three or four times on a record with 11 tracks, but that's Fog's modus operandi. When an excellent song reveals itself only after several minutes of mere glimpses, it gains immeasurably in spontaneity and grandeur.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush