Meat-obsessed West Country whimsy merchants Schnauser sound like they have just stepped out of a faded-postcard timewarp of early 1970s prog-folk, vintage surrealism and Victorian bandstand psychedelia.
Drawing on an illustrious art-rock lineage that includes Soft Machine, Todd Rundgren, Syd Barrett and XTC, their fragrant brand of avant-easy listening veers a little too close to retro-kitsch in places. But behind the English eccentric jumble-sale tweeness of their fourth album lies a hint of menace and a keen lyrical gift for teasing out the rich weirdness of everyday life in the spirit of the late, great Bonzos frontman Viv Stanshall.
Fronted by the Bristol-based couple Alan Strawbridge and Holly McIntosh, Schnauser clearly have one foot in the experimental jazz-pop realm too, pumping out sleek neo-Krautrock grooves reminiscent of Stereolab or Broadcast on the Farfisa-funk cannibal fantasy Protein For Everyone and the sleek sci-fi bossa nova The Reason They’re Alive.
Opening with a thank you announcement to listeners in the style of a flight attendant, the epic-length finale Disposable Outcomes moves through various tempo changes and cinematic sound effects before settling into a macabre short story about a romantically obsessed stalker at a garden centre. Trippy, slightly sinister, mostly excellent.