The Estonian pop collective Tartu Popi Ja Roki Instituut take a very inclusive approach to creating music, and on their third album, Marienbad, the group continues to refine and expand its sound in very interesting ways. This time out, they're back to singing in their native language, but not much else has changed. Taking cues from indie folk, indie pop, and psychedelic rock, to name a few of the strongest styles the band can knock off with ease, the album jumps from one style to the next, often while jamming two or more disparate things together to make something new. The screaming psych rock guitar solo in the middle of the jangling Belle & Sebastian-style "Läänerannikul" is a fine example of how their freewheeling approach to crafting their sound works a treat. Other times, it's the juxtaposition of styles from one song to the next that stirs things up nicely, like how they follow the brisk and concise "Läänerannikul" with the sprawling "Allavoolu," which sounds like it sprang to life during an old Traffic jam session. There are a couple of other long songs on the album, each of them able to hold the listener's interest thanks to the group's firm grasp of dynamics and their flowing musicianship. They also have skills at crafting short, snappy pop songs that are filled with sophisticated, space age pop-synth sounds, sneaky sharp hooks, and lovely male/female vocals. The title track is like a lost Broadcast collaboration with Stereolab, the lilting "Ilu Tempel" brings some cocktail jazz into the mix, the album-ending "Amiši Popp" is a dream-like wisp of a song that Brian Wilson would certainly understand. Taken altogether, the album is an always interesting, pleasantly challenging trip through the pop sounds of the last 50 or so years, guided by some folks who really know what they're doing and do it very well.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra