Florist Fired

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The last time we heard from Marmoset before Florist Fired was 2002's Mishawaka EP, but it almost doesn't matter how long they take between releases: the band always feels slightly out of time. Marmoset's shambling, chugging indie rock -- a dry, droll, Midwestern take on the looser side of British post-punk and psychedelic pop -- seems more in sync with the sound the style's heroes were making back in the early to mid-'90s than with any of their late-'90s or 2000s contemporaries. Guided by Voices is a frequent comparison point, and songs like this album's "Personality Candyspots" won't dissuade those comparisons anytime soon, but on Florist Fired, Marmoset sounds most like themselves, borrowing sounds and approaches from their earlier work. The album begins with a flurry of dizzying song snippets like the bouncy, distorted "Toe Tapper" and "I Saw Your Shadow," a prime example of the murky, experimental sound the band delves into from time to time and which can grate on all but the most die-hard Marmoset fans. It's not the most promising start, especially for a band that's been gone for half a decade, but eventually Florist Fired straightens out just enough to deliver a string of songs that rank with the band's finest. "Butterknife" brings back the buzzy, sardonic sound of Today It's You, while "Luckcharm" and "Pass It Along" are perfect examples of Marmoset's meandering acoustic pop. The sweet, singalong melodies of "Missing Man" and "Apples" are even hookier and more direct than anything the band has done before, and nod to Jorma Whittaker's 2003 self-titled solo album. Dave Jablonski's songs are just as strong, particularly "Dropping Dimes" and "Laughing with Minx," a dark psych-pop interlude that reaffirms just how big an influence Syd Barrett is on Marmoset's music. The strangely willful, awkward charm of the band's sound is on full display, especially on Florist Fired's slower tracks: "(I'm) Somewhere" is dreamy, laconic, and somehow unfinished-feeling, which makes its musings even more wistful, and "Not Nice" shows that even the band's most bittersweet songs have a playful edge to them. Marmoset's elliptical, cryptic almost-pop is out of sync with the instant-gratification nature of a lot of late-2000s indie music, but Florist Fired is worth savoring instead of downing in one big gulp.

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