The Squires of the Subterrain

Hello Good Morning

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While it doesn't contain quite as many out-and-out staggering highlights as Liquid Sundays, Hello Good Morning may be an even more consistently enjoyable album, and it also happens to house some of the most impressive and complex moments in the recorded canon of the Squires of the Subterrain. Christopher Earl's way with a song proves, as usual, unimpeachable. The merry-go-round swirl of "Mrs. Maude" is utterly infectious and the song itself is one of Earl's very finest, a funhouse of kaleidoscopic reflections and deliciously suggestive references. The same goes for the second version of "Half a World Away," a hallucinatory beach sunset to warm the cockles, as well as the soft-focus and spectral "Intoxicating Violet." And with "Untitled No. 17," the Squires of the Subterrain again prove that, although tucked away from the commercial world, Earl has inherited and internalized better than anyone the daunting mantle of Brian Wilson's acid-addled art. Aside from the song-based merit, though, Earl's skill as a producer also continued to soar here. That holds not only for the fidelity (lo-fi is no longer adequate) but for the instrumental touches and arrangement choices made by the auteur as well. The sonic qualities throughout are more experimental and ambitious than anything previously put out by the artist without being overly busy. Immaculately placed elements like the bass-pulse buildup of the "Good Day Sunshine" rewrite "Half a World Away" (the first version, that is) or the inebriated square dance fiddle solo in "Pretty Pick-Pocket" bear that out in subtle ways, but it is even more abundantly prevalent in the heavily phase-warped waves of the mind-blowing "Concerning Helen White" or "Princess Pasquinade," which harnesses into an actual song some of the musique concrète techniques first explored on Electric Blanket. To make a woefully inadequate and overused comparison in reverse, if Liquid Sundays was the Squires' Sgt. Pepper, a remarkable feat of musical vision that will leave listeners agape even in its less-successful moments, Hello Good Morning is their Revolver, a whole album that grows more magnificent with each subsequent listen, revealing virtually no thin spots. A transcendence of influences.

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