Calculated experimentation - with hooks

Watching Angels Mend (Netwerk America)

Alex Lloyd

By Kevin Gibson

Whereas Australian Alex Lloyd's debut album Black the Sun was considered highly experimental, his latest, Watching Angels Mend, gives more of a nod to the songs and thick instrumentation. While keyboards and walls of sound find their place, they don't block out the tasteful acoustic guitars and solid percussion.

The best attribute this album possesses is, simply, a series of very good songs. If you're a fan of Michael Penn, Neil Finn, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Travis, et al - all folks who value the integrity of the song above all else -- this disc should be in your collection. What you will get is catchy, almost frustratingly familiar melodies that don't pander to your ears. Whereas straight-ahead pop can at times seem silly, Lloyd never steps onto that path.

Even in the heartbroken, melodic strains of "Green," in which Lloyd laments "If you want to be free/please don't fall for me/I could be anyone but your friend," the song never sounds contrived, just openly emotional. The somber "Sleep" takes a quieter approach but achieves the same effect. Simply exquisite.

This album is already double platinum down under. There's a reason for that. Once it gets inside your head, it won't leave. And not in a Bay City Rollers kind of way, either. Check out Lloyd with Beth Orton Aug. 9 at Headliners.