Alpacas Orgling
(Cheap Lullaby)

Ostensibly, the sole objective of L.E.O. – a conglomerate of power pop’s shining stars – is to pay loving tribute to the Electric Light Orchestra. Conceptually, of course the idea of a loose power pop ‘supergroup’ takes inspiration from the Traveling Wilburys and presumably, the fact that Jeff Lynne is a constant in both equations is no coincidence.

However, I’d like to believe that L.E.O. sets its goals higher than merely being ELO clones. After all, that approach would never do any justice to the genius of Jeff Lynne. Of course, astute pop observers would be aware that ELO was formed in the first place by Lynne and Roy Wood to reproduce the sounds of the Beatles (specifically, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am The Walrus”) on stage.

And certainly, the band went far beyond re-creating the Beatles sound and established an identity very uniquely its own.

Thus it is with L.E.O., whom I think are taking everything that was so wonderful about 70s classic pop rock (and that also includes the Beach Boys, solo Beatles, Todd Rundgren, Queen, Bowie, Supertramp, Sparks et al) and distilling its essence to produce scintillating modern pop music. In that respect, I would submit that L.E.O. are following in the footsteps of esteemed bands like the Flaming Lips and the High Llamas.

So even as the synthesized “Overture” wafts into the consciousness and segues into the Harrisonesque slide guitar intro of “Goodbye Innocence,” you just know you’ve entered pop paradise. “Ya Had Me Goin” apes the pseudo-disco of “Evil Woman” with a impassioned vocal that the Big O himself would have been proud of. “Distracted” is gorgeous, the kind of laidback, breezy, easy ballad that the likes of Grandaddy have mined to great effect. “Make Me” is more Freddie Mercury than Jeff Lynne – a standout track. The Lennonesque “Nothin’ Will Ever Change” keeps the good vibes flowing whilst “Don’t Let It Go” is a wondrous orchestral Chuck Berry ditty that recalls “Rockaria!”

I presume the closing “Sukaz Are Born Every Minute” is not a joke on its listeners. Cos it’s a beautiful ballad that embellished by synths and banjos, not to mention a lovely tune. A perfect end to a glorious evocation of the golden age of pop and rock music.

The best power pop album this century (so far)? Why not? A+