This full-length debut CD by Reading, England's Saloon finds the band exploring territory once considered the prima facie domain of Stereolab. In fact, (This Is) What We Call Progress seems to pick up where that group left off years ago, deftly combining sanguine pop filigree with Krautrock and post-rock electronic elements. The result is delightful art pop decoupage combining pristine glacier-like atmospherics (tacitly played on vintage synths and moogs, stylophone, and a custom-built "pocket theremin") with softly strummed or ringing guitars and Alison Cotton's agile, graceful viola. There are additional tuneful accents on glockenspiel and melodica, with Morricone-esque trumpet and percussive elements courtesy of drummer Michael Smoughton, giving the album an otherworldly beauty. (This Is) What We Call Progress was produced by Andrew Prinz (of U.S. labelmates Mahogany) at his Brooklyn-based Sixth Simultaneous Studio workshop (Prinz also designed the cover art). Highlights abound, from the motorik synth-driven "Girls Are the New Boys" and "Le Weekend" to the dulcet tones of "Bicycle Thieves" and "Make It Soft," all of which feature Amanda Gomez' diaphanous lullaby lead vocals and Adam Cresswell's liquid, soporific basslines. "Victor Safronov" is titled after the Russian scientist who theorized that the moon might have come from a chunk of the Earth. This album was released in the U.K. and Europe by the Track and Field Organisation, and by Darla in the U.S. and Asia.
AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas