Yet again I'm reviewing albums out-of-order for a group, but one more time I've found myself interested in a latter release by a group, so I go back and try to pick up some of their earlier releases. In the case of Salako, I picked up their Musicality release some time ago and liked their offbeat Beta Band verses Belle And Sebastian style, so I eventually got around to getting their debut. As might or might not be expected, it's a little more uneven than their newer full-length, but it still has a lot of the same quirky pop goodness that perked my ears up to them before.
Part of the reason it took me a little while to find the release was that it's only available on import (unlike Musicality, which also got a domestic release), and again it finds the group cramming a large number of songs (20) into a short amount of time (less than 50 minutes). They again twiddle with lo-fi acoustic numbers, strange sound effects, and bursts of noise and sing-song lyrics to get their fun songs across.
In fact, the album opens up with a song that sort of feels like yet another group on the Jeepster label in Looper. Although it starts out with a bit of an ambient drift, a twinkling guitar leads things off before a light drum and bass rhythm comes into play amongst some rather crunchy guitar. Even at that, though, the group keeps their sort of light, breathy vocals. The follow-up track "Words Are Not Useful" is a sort of a wistful ode to the future in which the vocals are strung-together in an almost stream-of-consciousness way that leaves the vocalist out of breath. "Glass Bottom Boat Rides" makes use of an all-too-obvious filter to create sort of an underwater effect with the vocals before "Second Age" finds the group creating a track that sounds like something you might hear at the dentist office.
Still, for every track that doesn't quite work, the group pulls off a cute (and I do mean that in a good way) track like the whimsical "Story Of Bill," the speak-and-spell flavored "Go On Then! Enighten Me, Why Dontcha?" or the completely goofy "Porpoise Sunlamp."(either of which, Looper fans would also eat up). Overall, it's a fun, lo-fi pop album that's a little less light sounding than their newer release, but a little less cohesive. If you're a fan of somewhat silly British pop, you could definitely do worse.