The Natural Riot is a late bloomer in the psych-collective zeitgeist of Elephant 6, the lo-fi Beatle-isms of Kindercore Records, and the like, a continuation of the genuflection they made on Bury My Heart at Makeout Point. These kooky, fuzzy-headed pop symphonies created to reclaim the charm of lost youth sound woefully naïve when placed in a 2002 context. The charm of the Shimmer Kids Underpop Association is in their sonic cohesiveness, a product of the fact that all six of them appear to actually be in the band all the time. Theirs is more the Godspeed You Black Emperor! model than the makeshift, solo-project-realized-with-friends nature of Elephant 6 bands. Album notes use the collective revolution-speak of MC5 or, at the source, the Situationist movement, denoting a preoccupation with the "turn on" qualities of psych. With that in mind, the kids attempt to liberate listeners from their mundane lives with statements like: "Everybody's busy watching everybody else/And when they're all done using you/It's back you go on the shelf" in "Like Candy, Like Poison." This song, like many, is driven by acoustic guitar, mellow keys, and a horn accompaniment and features Elf Power-like vocals by Josh Babcock. Other tracks, like "Another Planet," recall the non-traditional techniques of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, or, on "Miss Classified," the sass and chimes of Motown girl groups. Warm and fuzzy, yes, but largely without the vocal motivation or monster hooks that made such artists famous. The Shimmer Kids Underpop Association, of course, couldn't want anything less, and this album represents a nostalgia-based homage to their psychedelic idols, some passable psych-country singalongs, and not much else.
AllMusic Review by Daphne Carr