The sound of The Wayward Bus is quite similar to Distant Plastic Trees, filled as it is with walls of cheap synthesizers and drum machines while featuring the haunting vocals of Susan Anway. The atmosphere of the album is also, like its predecessor, filled with a sort of melancholic wistfulness. Yet there are major differences between the two records. Primarily, The Wayward Bus works in many ways as a tribute of sorts to Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. Several tracks here use the rhythms to Spector's "Be My Baby," while the theme of summer love often recurs. Furthermore, there is little of the out-and-out experimentation heard on the debut, while Merritt added cello and horns to his music for the first time. While there's nothing here as gorgeous as "100,000 Fireflies," the record is more consistent than The Wayward Bus, and the simple beauty of tracks like "Lovers From the Moon" and "Candy" rank among Merritt's best songwriting, as does the Japanese pop pastiche, "Tokyo a Go-Go." Anway's last album with the group, The Wayward Bus was later released on one CD with Distant Plastic Trees.
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AllMusic Review by Geoff Orens