Hot Club de Paris

Free the Pterodactyl, Vol. 3

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Don't be misled by the band's name: if you're looking for 1930s-style Gypsy jazz à la Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, you have come to the completely wrong place. If, however, you're looking for a sort of angular power pop by way of South African township jive and math rock with borderline-surrealistic lyrics sung in a broad and unapologetic Scouse accent, then you have come to the completely right place, and you'll probably find yourself staying for an extended period. There are moments when the Hot Club de Paris create sounds that suggest other bands: "I'm Not in Love and Neither Are You" strongly evokes Big Country with its acerbic, swirling guitar lines, while "The Rise and Fall of the High School Suicide Cluster Band" suggests a math rock version of Arcade Fire. But other tracks suggest no one else: "Biggie Smalls and the Ghetto Slams" cribs a guitar obbligato from the James Bond theme and embroiders it with glockenspiel. Then there's "Dance a Ragged Dance," which is danceable but nowhere near ragged: the guitars are layered in brightly colored counterpoint, while the voices merge and separate in tight harmony and the time signatures don't change nearly as often as they seem to. Pop music has never sounded so gleefully anarchic while simultaneously showing off its intricately disciplined chops. This an exhilarating, befuddling, and ultimately joyous excursion into a completely new style of pop music, and it would immediately go double-platinum in a rational music marketplace.

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