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I think it's safe to assume that a band who have chosen to call themselves The Multiple Cat didn't enter the studio to record these songs thinking that the latest Atoms For Peace album was a bit on the mainstream side. Fear not, this is no comedy record either, 'The Return Of' generally concerns itself with indie/pop/rock songs that are fairly accessible and easy to listen to. There's a fair amount of history here, although it's sparse in terms of time. Singer/songwriter/producer/engineer Patrick Stolley initiated the project back in 1994, and since then the band (which seems to have a revolving door policy when it comes to members) have put out three albums and numerous singles. This is their first album in over a decade.
If that seems a little on the lazy side, then take into account the fact that Stolley is also a member of Daytrotter and has over 600 production/engineering/mixing credits to his name, including Vampire Weekend, The National, Fleet Foxes, Dirty Projectors and many other big names. So he's a busy man. 'The Return Of' is sensible when it comes to production which is something of a surprise. The songs are clean and alive but really seem to have little added to them in that department. Had Phil Spector been at the controls things would have been different. This isn't lo-fi though, let's call it mid-fi, and say that Stolley has left it to the songs to speak for themselves.
The tunes here are all good without ever really stepping into greatness. The light-hearted indie/pop of tracks like 'His Master's Voice', 'The Hill Pt. 1' and 'The Other World' are all decent songs, the latter two particular, perhaps due to feeling just a touch more serious. You don't notice much difference with the beginning of 'Flood', it's much like its predecessors, but after three minutes changes begin to appear, and then when you reach almost eight minutes you realise you've been on an extensive but never boring trip through sound. It's a wonderful piece. 'Disaster!' is another quality track made from warm analogue sounds, and this quality continues through 'Know Past, Know Future' and 'Vampire Bats, Mall Rats' and any notions of this being a nice but ultimately forgettable album begin to diminish. Finishing with the acoustic ditty of 'The River' we're left to conclude that this return is a very welcome one.
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