The Most Serene Republic, …And The Ever Expanding Universe
Blissfully all-over-the-place indie rock
The Most Serene Republic are clearly determined to skirt all accusations that they lack ambition. Take just one of the tracks on this peculiar and marvelous album; "Heavens To Purgatory" clocks in at just two minutes and 39 seconds, yet it contains all of the following: an acoustic singer-songwriter's introduction, a clap-your-hands-and-sing-along interlude, two lead vocal parts, a delirious choral backing, an arrestingly understated guitar solo, and an all-too-rare deployment of the word "gadzooks" in a modern indie pop hit.
It would be tempting to describe this track as typical of the album, but to do so would be to tell only part of the story: while the animating traits of eccentricity and experimentation are constant, absolutely nothing else is. This third album by the Canadian seven-piece is the soundtrack of several imaginations running wild, along the way echoing the Polyphonic Spree, Mull Historical Society, Flaming Lips, the Beta Band and Super Furry Animals. It's much to their credit that the best tracks here are the ones which tempt hubris most flagrantly: the deranged instrumental orchestral romp "Patternicity" and the exquisitely titled "No One Likes A Nihilist", which has something of the precious fragility of early Prefab Sprout.