THE SPROUTTS: Man, Woman and Machine!
By Mark Bell
Despite the industrial/sci fi connotations of the title, this crafty Wellington combo put out an alluringly organic, quirky and melodic strain of smart-pop. Many of those things that were held dear in the í60s like cleverly crafted backing vocals, strong arrangements, real string parts, melody and succinctness are present here, with eight of the tracks clocking in under three minutes (three of those under two minutes). The UKís Belle and Sebastian is a comparison thatís probably been made before, but that doubtless has more to do with vocal timbre and coincidence than any sort of contrivance. Itís hard to pick standout tracks because they all have something to recommend them, but the title track would have to be one, with its propulsive feel and warped vintage keyboard antics. This is a band that has clearly worked hard to chisel out a distinctive, peppy and highly entertaining album on a modest budget.