Al & Del

Poppies of Fourteen

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Poppies of Fourteen collects tracks from Al & Del's handful of full-length cassettes and compilation tracks released during the '90s, all remixed and overdubbed (according to the liner notes). A collaboration between the enigmatic lyricist/singer Al Seamless and the French toy pop duo Klimperei, Al & Del specialize in sad pop songs. Naive melodies are coupled with oblique lyrics that have a surreal, psychedelic feel. The lightness and sunny childishness in Klimperei's music have evaporated, leaving at the bottom of the beaker a substrate of lazy anguish, detached sadness, and dry humor. On the other hand, the instrumentation is pure Klimperei: piano, cheap keyboards, simple percussion and tons of toys. Some songs evoke the legacy of The Beatles' psychedelic phase (finely chiselled dreams wide awake); others threaten to lose their cohesion halfway through like Syd Barrett's solo material. Conciseness is an important feature of these 30 songs, each averaging two minutes per track. In the long run the listener gets an impression of repetition as the songs begin to all sound the same; but there is enough cleverness in the arrangements, and strange characters in the songs (like this girl who washes dishes at "Sunnyside Hospital" by day and works as a hooker by night), to sustain your interest. Fans of the French naive pop connections (Toupidek Limonade, Albert Marcoeur, and Pascal Comelade) will surely appreciate this compilation.

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