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On Flamingods' debut album, last year's Sun, there was a clear dichotomy between the more experimental sounds and the more pop driven ones. Out of the latter you had wonderful tracks like 'Quesso' with its sun-kissed guitar noodling, 'If You Can Walk' with its marching rhythm interlaced with sporadic vocal melodies, and 'Taishōgoto' with its entrancing polyphonic textures. The more experimental sounds proffered some excellent tracks too, most notably 'Sun', 'Mountain Hut', and 'Xipe Topec'. On the group's follow up, any pretence of trying to craft a 'pop' friendly record is abandoned very early on. Whilst it's a bit of a shame not to have some easily digestible snippets of Flamingods' energetic take on world music, the result, a more balanced mixture of the two camps they previously sat in, is remarkably consistent, clear, and paints a really great future for the band.

Sun was always going to offer comparisons to Animal Collective, given its nudging into freak-folk territory, with moments that could easily have sat on Feels with great ease (which, hopefully, is taken as the compliment it is). Hyperborea finds Flamingods identifying what makes them different to other acts. Sure, it can sometimes feel a little like stirring water with a foot just before jumping in, but this does appear to be something the band are, at least partially, aware of. There aren't a lot of grand statements on Hyperborea; it's much more like a consolidation of sounds. It's like this group are picking a direction, briefly pausing to let you know about it, before they run off into the woods to go and live their new lives. In this respect, this is an exciting record, but does leave occasional moments of wishing you were seeing the step after this tentative, but necessary, one.

The album literally rings itself in with bells on opener 'Vimana'. Whilst they remain a constant as other sounds shift around underneath, it's the track to listen to if you want to see if this is going to be your thing. There are some really inventive tracks here on Hyperborea, the most of which tend to be the hypnotic, rhythmic creations. 'Himiko' does some wonderful work with the textures it shifts in and around its central, cascading, warped-steel sounds. Although there's sampling and electronic fissures erupting from various locations, Flamingods are very good at making a very natural sound out of the chaos that ensues. 'Himiko' introduces lots of different sounds, and as an acoustic guitar line chimes in, you realise the feat that they've accomplished here, by making something very natural fit in so well with the busy, kaleidoscopic soundscape, is impressive. 'Hyperborea' evokes this same feeling, with an electric guitar feeling particularly humanised as it weaves over the swelling background mulch. 'Mother Hen', too, is a successful track which feels busy, but warm. It's the feeling you'd get when baking your own bread. It's messy, and maybe it has some odd lumps in it where you weren't expecting, but it's natural and tasty.

There's an energetic side too, as displayed by tracks like 'Market Dancer' and 'Ancient Rhythms'. That latter track is one of the best tracks Flamingods have made so far. It's a wonderful, glittering piece of freak-folk that feels like no-one else could have made it. There's a lot of vocal experimentation on Hyperborea, with a lot of vocoding and spoken-word samples, and these moments force the attention on the melody and rhythms, which are as manic as they can be for the most part. Some tracks perhaps become a tad bogged down by the vocal work, such as 'Morning Raga', which has some beautiful notes partially hidden underneath the distorted lyrics. The weighting of the album favours shorter songs in the beginning half, acting like a catapult that launches you into the much denser latter half. This works well, and acts as a crash-course introduction to Flamingods if this is your first run-in with the band.

Hyperborea is an enthralling album, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have certain aspects which just don't excite as much as others. There are tracks here which have magic and charm, like 'Ancient Rhythms', and others that feel a bit too broad in scope to invest in fully. Flamingods have managed to create a unique sound, after an album that perhaps borrowed off others to a noticeable degree. That is the takeaway from Hyperborea, and so it's very hard not to see this as an important record for the band, but perhaps not the one in which we see their identity burn brightest. This is Flamingods finding their voice in the world, and testing it out. It's going to be interesting to see where they go from here.

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