Recording information: Kingsize Studios, Chicago, IL (05/1997-03/1998); Kingsize Studios, Lake Geneva, WI (05/1997-03/1998).
Ensemble: The Aluminum Group.
Aluminum Group's second album betrays an obvious Magnetic Fields influence. One of the two singing Navin brothers even sounds uncannily like the Fields' Stephin Merritt, particularly on the gently percolating "Steam." The Chicago band's other main influence appears to be '70s soft-rock. "Nine Months Later" even quotes Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," and "Angel On A Trampoline" wouldn't sound a bit out of place on any soft-favorites radio station.
All of Frank and John Navin's songs are absolutely lovely. Their arrangements are tasteful-a dot of horns here, a dash of analog synthesizer there, lush strings and acoustic guitars everywhere. The characteristically pristine production of David Trumfio (Pulsars) gives Aluminum Group's sound depth and warmth. "Chocolates," the shimmering, Bacharach-like opening track, is a particular standout. With its exquisite sound and impressive influences, PLANO should appeal to soft-pop fans of any generation.
Entertainment Weekly (8/21/-8/28/98, p.127) - "...[The Aluminum Group]...creates peppy synth-pop melodies so sweet and alluring they're instant heartstring tuggers with lyrics that break that heart. Enough pop pathos to keep mopers melancholy for hours." - Rating: A-