To borrow one of its own song titles, Imitation Electric Piano's second album makes for "Relatively Good Times." That it's not better lies in the band's decision to make a marked departure in its signature sound: adding full-time vocals.
One of many offshoots of post-rock giant Stereolab, the band debuted in 2001 with a stellar self-titled EP of instrumental lounge-tronica that suggested what Stereolab might sound like if orchestrated by Burt Bacharach. A proper LP, "Trinity Neon," followed in 2003, also terrific.
So if it ain't broke, why bring twee-voiced singer Mary Hampton into the fold? Her pipes don't complement the music, but diffuse its charm. In full, "Blow It Up "¦ " isn't bad, but it's a disappointment; one can imagine how much better it'd be sans vocals.
- Dave Bond