(Sounds Familyre)

Those of you reading this who happen to be Christians may be familiar with the worship song, “Our God Reigns.” Well, the creator of that song – Lenny Smith – also gave the world (his eldest son) Daniel Smith, the creative force behind (take your pick) the Danielson Famile, Br. Danielson, Tri-Danielson and of course, Danielson.

Smith, his siblings and friends (including Sufjan Stevens and Deerhoof) have been confounding indie rock critics with an invigorating re-invention of rock music that has turned the indie music scene on its collective ear.

Ships is Smith’s sixth album and is perhaps his best thus far, harnessing a mélange of influences with his infectious idiosyncratic persona intact, without compromising an iota of his faith. This is joyful, living music that makes no excuses for its passion and creativity.

One warning – Smith’s vocals really take some getting used to, a mix of Peter Gabriel and Geddy Lee but this time not backed up by prog rock (well, not any prog rock ever produced thus far, anyway!) but once you get past it, the music will take a hold and never let go…

“Ship the Majestic Suffix” is at once austere and epic, conjuring tall vessels on the high seas, of tumultuous journeys on the crest of a wave with flutes, horns and xylophone making vital contributions.

“Cast It At The Setting Sail” is bouncy and jaunty with vibes underpinning the declaratory tone.

“Bloodbook on the Half Shell” is typically Danielson schizophrenic, alternating between sweet and scary, naïve and sinister, serene and frenetic and even includes whistling!

“Did I Step On Your Trumpet” is a highlight, lively and folky, recalling Blur/Pavement at their best but with Old world instrumentation and arrangements.

“When It Comes to You I’m Lazy” is a quirky acoustic folk ballad, sounding like an outtake from Brian Wilson’s Smile. “Two Sitting Ducks” is whimsical, child-like, two songs in one, two singing styles, shrieking heavy metal & raw pubescent doodling.

“Kids Pushing Kids” is brash, epic, dramatic carrying big drums, loud guitars & insistent violins. “Time That Bald Sexton” contains strange time signatures and resides in oddball Andy Partridge country.

Ships is the ultimate headphones album and there is so much going on here and once you immerse yourself in its delights, nothing quite compares. Very close to being the album of 2006. A+