Nits

Giant Normal Dwarf

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AllMusic Review by

After the relative austerity of In the Dutch Mountains and Hat, the Nits really let their imaginations run riot for Giant Normal Dwarf. On first acquaintance, this beautifully packaged album might suggest that lyricist Henk Hofstede had taken an LSD-inspired trip back to the world of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Glass Onion": the opening track alone manages to rhyme "telephone lake" with "periscope snake." Yet the mundane truth was that these apparently psychedelic ditties had been penned by Hofstede as a kind of musical fairy tale for his newborn daughter. That said, there's nothing childish about the music on this album, which is one of the most consistently satisfying of the band's career. Though occasionally the whimsy might get a little cloying for some tastes, there's no denying the sheer beauty of a song like "The Night Owl" -- which sounds like a lost Moody Blues classic -- and the delightful strangeness of the closing songs, "House of the Sleeping Beauties" and "The Infinite Shoeblack." Yet amidst all the candy-striped surrealism, the band's ability to write instantly memorable, utterly distinctive melodies that frequently veer off at unexpected tangents shines through. Check out the entry of a full choir singing "Little red roses fall" in the midst of "Radio Shoes," for instance. If that doesn't bring a smile to your face, check for a pulse. Special mention should go to the keyboard work of Robert Jan Stips, who created a multicolored world of sound that perfectly complements Hofstede's flights of fancy, without ever fetching up in synthesizer hell. Though it remains a favorite among fans of the band, Giant Normal Dwarf nevertheless failed to match the commercial success of In the Dutch Mountains.

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