Cotton Mather | Kontiki [Deluxe Edition]

Star Apple Kingdom
By ZETH LUNDY  |  February 14, 2012
4.0 4.0 Stars

When it was released in 1997, Cotton Mather's sophomore album racked up glowing critical huzzahs across the pond (not to mention big-ups from Oasis), yet dudded here in the States. But why? Kontiki should hold an equally hallowed place on the shelf of canonical '90s indie records with contemporaneous efforts by Neutral Milk Hotel and Guided By Voices. As vivid, challenging, and just plain hooky now as it was 15 years ago, Kontiki is a brilliant synthesis of Beatles-esque pop and lo-fi surreal experimentation, an even richer and more fully realized example of the GBV modus operandi. Singer/songwriter Robert Harrison, a Texan with a voice somewhere between John Lennon and John Linnell, stuck one shoulda-been smash hit ("My Before and After") in between other bouts of fractured classicism. "Homefront Cameo" and "She's Only Cool" are all Liverpudlian bended-knee bounce, "Church of Wilson" puts unbridled power in the band's power-pop, and even serpentine tracks like "Private Ruth" boast serious melodic backbone. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, the long-out-of-print masterpiece is back, this time with a second ?disc of demos and outtakes. And if you miss out again this time around, well, that's just your own damn fault.
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