Cook the books
One of the most strangely overrated albums of recent memory, the release of Food for Thought brought such gushing press reaction that it certainly seemed worth the gamble. A low-key blend of manipulated found sound (people laughing, gates squeaking shut, sampled voices), cut ‘n’ spliced acoustic guitar, banjo and violin, and smatterings of murmured singing – it all looks very nice on paper. However, it is either jarringly erratic – downing one enjoyable motif to take an unwelcome sojourn on the banjo – or wholly insubstantial, with songs either going nowhere or plodding into nothingness. The use of found sound and spectral, disembodied voices in not unusual, but there is something strangely quirky and calming about this album that can lay claim to authenticity. One track rustles and floats with sampled laughter, and brings a smile to the listener’s face, while ‘Read, Eat, Sleep’ lulls you sleep with its samples from a spelling bee competition. Like Animal Collective’s later Sung Tongs, it has a charmingly playful rusticity, but unlike that band The Books never build on their successes, having a tendency to allow things to deconstruct or implode. ‘Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again’ opens brilliantly with its looped guitar plucks and deranged voices but, just when it hits a peak, makes an unwelcome detour down a country road (an annoying tangent of banjo and violin that throws the track completely off course). Food for Thought could also be compared to some to the folktronic artists (see Four Tet) but somehow doesn’t belong to that ‘genre’, sharing its atmosphere even with some of Mogwai’s quieter acoustic moments on ‘Come on Die Young’.