A singular sound sustained
OH (Ohio) (Merge)
ESSENTIAL "I'm Thinking of a Number (Between 1 and 2)"
Kurt Wagner says he has come to recognize that his band Lambchop has evolved into a vehicle for his artistic efforts; at the same time the band has moved from the sprawling, shifting collective it once was to a smaller, more permanent lineup. What difference has that made? Not much. Lambchop records continue to exhibit a singular character, one formed by Wagner's strange and strangely compelling, cryptic, disjointed, idiosyncratic songs and singing. "OH (Ohio)," with its predominant mix of chamber pop and languid, atmospheric twang, is very much in the vein of its 2006 predecessor, "Damaged." Wagner's titles ("National Talk Like a Pirate Day"), his lyrics ("My pajamas are holding my record player/ There's a hockey game on the table by the chair"), and his dry, enunciative singing style still achieve a remarkable combination of pretension and playfulness. Lambchop may be evolving, but its capacity for sounding like nothing else remains intact. [Stuart Munro]