On its third album, the London duo takes giant steps toward shedding the trivializing "toytronica" label that has pigeoholed its releases to date, without abandoning its inventive, homemade electronic sound. The Camel's Back is brimming with evidence of Psapp's treasure trove of novelty sounds, from the bubbles on opening track "I Want That" through the splashes of "Fix It" to the comical sonic effects on the instrumental interlude "Homicide." What is different this time around is the more complete musical arrangement and deeper, more mature sound that underpins the tracks.
"Part Like Waves" sees Durant and Clasmann weave sweeping strings and full-bodied melodies into their patchwork of quirky instruments. The album's title track sets a jewelry-box tune and chugging electronic beats against a mournful, melancholy accordion. "Screws" casts all gimmicks aside, leaving a simple soulful piano and Galia Durant's warm, sultry vocals shine through.
Psapp is letting its mature side show, but, in this case, maturity is nothing to be ashamed of. The duo hasn't foregone its sense of fun in the process. This fuller, richer sound doesn't detract from the the band's poppiness, as the playful, jaunty "Monster Song" and chirpy, catchy "Mister Ant" prove.
Pure pop remains the guiding principle for Psapp's music, yet during the course of these twelve tracks, Clasmann and Durant touch on indie pop, bossa nova, restrained electronica and swinging jazz, all through the prism of their homemade instruments and intricate orchestration. With The Camel's Back, Psapp grows up while successfully eluding categorization in the quest for catchiness.
Psapp's 2006 album The Only Thing I Ever Wanted saw the British duo getting more exposure than they'd reckoned on. The comedown from touring the world, hearing their brand of quirky, homemade elecronica turn up TV, on Grey's Anatomy, The OC and Nip Tuck, and in movies, the Domino-released Hallam Foe soundtrack, proved so difficult and so draining that the pair almost called Psapp a day. Almost, but not quite.
Instead Galia and Carim found solace in the studio, in creating their fourth album, The Camel's Back. The album is a mediation on the highs and lows the band have experienced over the past few years, with a newfound maturity to be gleaned in the midst of the usual cheery pop and household-appliances-as-instruments.
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