With The Albemarle Sound
, Ladybug Transistor finally achieves the pop grandeur their earlier records promised -- from its lush arrangements and rich melodies right down to the perfectly retro cover art, the 1999 copyright date is the only telltale clue that the album wasn't actually released three decades earlier instead. As opposed to the like-minded bands of the Elephant 6 collective, whose similar nods in the direction of late-'60s popcraft butt heads with their concurrent desire to pursue more experimental paths, the Ladybugs
aspire to exactly replicate the orchestral confections of obvious inspirations like Brian Wilson
and Burt Bacharach
; the baroque twists of songs like "Meadowport Arch" and "Today Knows" are realized with remarkable dexterity and flair, and even if it is occasionally off-putting to hear an album so completely out of touch with the times, The Albemarle Sound
is so convincing and so affectionate that all reservations quickly disappear.