Shimmer Kids Underpop Association 

The Natural Riot

Rarely has a CD been so aptly named. This San Francisco collective takes a jumble of influences -- among them the Flaming Lips, the Beach Boys, Brian Eno, Pavement, and Spiritualized -- and synthesizes them into a busy but organic pleasure. The Kids are kind of like an American version of the Beta Band, sans the madcap Monty Pythonisms that their British counterparts so relish.

The disc opens with a gust of power-pop, gussied up in theremin whoops and stomp-clap-boom percussion, that then disintegrates into a mile-high pile of guitar bluster. But the songs soon segue into a mellower, more frolicsome strain, slathered in horns, sleigh bells, samples, vocoder, and melodica (due to its recent ubiquity, it's the new tambourine) until they're nearly adrift in tweaky psychedelia. But the band reins in the turmoil, taking a style that could fall nicely in line with that of the Elephant 6 collective, smoothing out the kinks and burying the elfin creatures far inside the music so that they just provide a giddy essence instead of cutesy imagery.

Songs like "Burning Bridges" wrap sparkly -- well -- shimmer around the simplest of tunes, layering a singalong chorus with quavery tube organ, MBV-inspired skreek, and absolute enthusiasm. The band's got range, too, distilling its sunshine down to the glintingest denominator when it updates the Beach Boys on "Another Planet" and "Going in Circles"; pulling off an impressive Eno impersonation on "The Soft Police"; and skanking out of the galaxy on the skaffected "Tones in Orbit," whose rattles, kazoos, and synthy spaceship noises give it a stoned-bike-ride-through-the-Martian-village kinda feel. But it all seems to come out easily, even gleefully, as if the records that the Shimmer Kids listen to are just the sheets and blankets that they dream between.


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