Emperor Penguin

Mysterious Pony

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Hot on the heels of Extreme Gaming comes Mysterious Pony, Emperor Penguin's third album within two years. Fortunately, the group's musical development is right on track with their prolific release schedule; Mysterious Pony works the kinks out of the group's synths-n-samples sound while keeping the funk. Much of the album focuses on Emperor Penguin's obsessive love for late-'60s and early-'70s easy listening, and swank cuts like "Chill or Be Chilled" and the excellently named "Burnt Sienna and Avocado" mix just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humor into the songs' authenticity. "Magic Beams," "After Midnight," and other soft, surprisingly dreamy songs make Mysterious Pony Emperor Penguin's quietest, most restrained effort yet. Even so, the group finds room for playful, naïve synth airs like the early single "E.D.G.A.R.," slinky rump-shakers such as "Hardcastles in the Sky," and the title track's sleazy electro. While there are a few throwaways on Mysterious Pony, it's still the group's most satisfying collection of affectionately kitschy synth instrumentals.

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