What is the point at which extended turns into long? When does an EP become an LP? Is it down to the number of tracks? Is it the running time? Historically singles consisted of two tracks, EPs of four tracks and LPs of circa 10 tracks. If only life in 2011 were so simple. For Centuries, the new collection of songs from San Francisco based duo Fops, is pitched as an EP yet there are seven songs with an overall running time of 40 minutes. Surely that’s enough to qualify as an LP. Do we even need to use terms like EP and LP anymore? Hasn’t the digital revolution rendered them somewhat obsolete?

Whether it’s an EP or an LP with For Centuries Fops commandeer the commanding heights of the British alternative music scene of the 80s to create an intriguing and occasionally baffling collection. Album opener ‘Countless Songs’ is a real Ronseal track, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It meanders languidly between different sounds and influences. Starting out like a kissing cousin of The Normal, it then decides it’d rather be The Human League before getting bored with 80s electro pop and transforming itself into whimsical Super Furry Animal meets Syd Barrett psych pop and finishing off with a flourish of electronic interference. It’s a schizophrenic, genre hopping track that’s easy to admire but difficult to love.

Second track ‘Cheater Carolina’ is more traditional. Perfectly pitched in the empty space between Echo and the Bunnymen and the Beach Boys, it’s laid back neo psychedelic pop with more than a hint of patchouli oil, cheesecloth and San Fran sunshine. The Echo and the Bunnymen influence is even stronger on the arty yet frivolous ‘I Shot A Parakeet’ which could easily be an outtake from the Heaven Up Here sessions. The duo clearly likes it because it appears again a couple of tracks later on the EP in a less stripped back, fuller bodied form.

’Fops On Tour’ is a piece of moody electronica with a chorus reminiscent of Duran Duran’s 'Girls On Film', but don’t let that put you off because it’s so cool it probably wears Ray Bans in doors. ‘Dolive Dreams’ is the missing link between New Order and the Normal. If the duo had called time at this point they’d have a great EP on their hands but then they go and spoil it all by tacking on the self indulgent Ronald Wilson Reagan, a twenty minute long electronic wig out that stretches the listener’s patience. I persevered to the end of the twenty minutes in the vain hope that at some point a song would break out. It didn’t.

Ultimately For Centuries falls between two stools, too long to be an EP and not focused enough to be an LP. With a little judicious pruning it could have been so much better.