The band Strobe Talbot is probably fairly counted as a Half Japanese side-project, given the presence of Jad Fair here. That the band -- Fair, Mick Hobbs, and Benb Gallaher, and assorted players -- have made a fine record without being near each other says something remarkable about the current state of the recording industry. Funland, out now via Moone Records, is a boisterous record and one that's full of wild invention, and a whole lot of heart. I think most Jad Fair projects could be described that way, eh?
If stuff like "Superstar" is brightly-optimistic, numbers like the silly-but-great "Werewolf of the Timberland" nod back to some of the better numbers from recent Half Japanese records. That said, there's something else here, as the retro-flavored "The Awakening" suggests, the backing track recalling Stereolab stuff a bit, while the quick-and-dirty "Made That Way" offers up a minute or so of rollicking charm. Elsewhere, "I Love You" and "Poetic Heart" mine a familiar vein of upbeat, and downright life-affirming, rock of the sort that Jad Fair has sort of become a pioneer of, while "A New Day" and the longer "Pretty Flowers" close out Funland with a kind of lyricism that too few indie-pop acts these days even approach with their material.
Strobe Talbot manages to work up a delightfully charming racket here on Funland, and fans of Half Japanese, Jad Fair's other band, will surely love this one as much as I did. Perhaps a trifle more rockin' than some recent Half Japanese releases, Funland by Strobe Talbot is a record of largely unabashed joy. This is pure pop for positive people.
Funland is out now via Moone Records.
[Photo: Uncredited promotional image from label; album cover by Jad Fair]