Todd Dillingham

Sgt. Kipper

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Arguably Todd Dillingham's best album, and easily his most accessible to a general audience, Sgt. Kipper is a delightfully twisted psych-pop album with more emphasis on the pop side of the equation than is usual for the cheerfully lysergic Dillingham. Sounding rather like a combination of Kevin Ayers, the Dukes of Stratosphear, and the Bevis Frond (on whose Woronzow label this appears), Dillingham's playful lyrics and twisting melodies are both at their best here. His penchant for both underwater imagery (as this and many of his other album titles indicates, the artist's fish obsession rivals that of Robyn Hitchcock) and direct cops from '60s classics ("A Winter's Day" explicitly references the opening of Paul Simon's "I Am a Rock") is this time matched with a more structured set of songs. Only the closing 18-minute freakout "The Gap" has the shapeless jamming that mars several of Dillingham's early releases. The other 19 songs are succinct, melodious, and occasionally brilliant, particularly the catchy freakbeat gem "Hooray," which recalls the Carnaby Street glory days of John's Children and the Creation. There's perhaps a couple too many drummerless minor-key tunes (although two of them, the doomy "End of the World" and the dreamily sensuous "Paintings," are among the album's best tracks), and the album's sequencing feels rather random, but, overall, Sgt. Kipper is a fine slab of psychedelia.

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