The much-celebrated eccentricity of the English has taken a PR battering of late, thanks to swivel-eyed politicians and their warped view of this nation’s character. On their second album, Buttonhead offer a more acceptable demonstration of what happens when mad ideas are fully realised: this is art rock with a quirky, unhinged edge, and as English as chips (despite the band’s Italian drummer, ‘natch). The opening Robocop Sunset feels like eight songs playing at once, its twists and turns making a kind of skewed sense as the prettiest of melodies leak through the scattershot melee. Call Me Steve is something else entirely: a delicate, pleading acoustic refrain that mutates into a thrilling rush of clangorous psych rock. Somehow, it’s endearing and faintly unnerving. Both Tungsten Trail and Invisible Children bring more easily discernible tropes, with shades of Cardiacs, Gentle Giant, Stereolab and even cult skronkers Blurt colliding. The spectres of Gong and Henry Cow are omnipresent too, but the combination of all these elements never sounds like a self-conscious throwback. Instead, Buttonhead are primarily concerned with spreading their own joy at how wild, weird and wonderful music can be.
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