It’s been five years since London collective Trailer Trash Tracys released their debut full-length album Ester. That album was often labelled as ‘dreampop’, but that seemed to be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Their layered and dense compositions often had dreamy elements, but moreover involved so much atmosphere and unique production choices that it could sound incongruous played directly alongside something delicate like Cocteau Twins or devastating like My Bloody Valentine; they seemed to float somewhere in their own realm. Judging from the sounds found on their second album Althaea, it seems they’ve taken the half-decade to completely deconstruct their sound and rebuild it again, forming something that once again is hard to place alongside anything else – even their own previous work.

From the ascending xylophone chimes of instrumental opener ‘Smoked Silver’, it’s immediately apparent that Althaea is going to be a more mystical affair. This is furthered as the rest of the band joins the mix; the focus is less on the booming percussion than it used to be, instead the low end comes from a swelling bass-synth, around which whirl inchoate melodies, giving the overall effect of stepping through some kind of portal into a new world – perhaps a new Garden Of Eden, as the next song ‘Eden Machine’ would suggest. Inside the verdant scenery of ‘Eden Machine’ we hear singer Susanne Aztoria’s rich-yet-feathery voice for the first time, sounding as unique as ever, and being better served by the band’s new aura. ‘Eden Machine’ is the perfect example of Trailer Trash Tracys’ newfound musical domain; synthesizers drift by like a calming breeze, light bashes of drum flit about like sparrows in the air, melodic notes adorn the surroundings like flower petals, and Aztoria’s voice at the centre describes an unearthly being gliding through it all.

The relentless use of multiple melodic elements – particularly the xylophone, which is their main weapon – recalls the restless experimentation of pioneers like Stereolab, but with a more tranquil gait. This wondrous concoction remains intact and just as potent throughout Althaea. The album title in itself speaks to the multitude of ideas going on here: Althaea could either refer to the healing flower, or to the tragic figure in Greek mythology – and the contents of the album tip back and forth between these soothing and more somber sounds. On the one hand there’s slinking beauty of ‘Gong Gardens’ and the joyous waltzing bounce of ‘Betty's Cavatina’, which brings to mind the flowers dancing in Fantasia, and make you feel awed by your spectral guides through this land. But, even heavenly creatures have a right to become disgruntled at times, although their displeasure can be something equally beautiful, and Trailer Trash Tracys depict that often on Althaea. This is evidenced in the sultry ‘Siebenkäs’ and the turbulent emotions of ‘Casadora’, which suggest a much moodier, more temperamental spirit at play.

At the end of a long day of exploring this luscious world, we come to night, and Trailer Trash Tracys send us off with ‘100 Aspects Of The Moon’. A wordless track, within which Aztoria’s voice hangs and soars like another natural instrument, it is like a parting farewell back to the real world, with all the magical creatures come to wave you off. As you pass under the titular moon you feel the untold colours and creatures around you fade away, and you’re already wondering when you’ll have a chance to return.

At this point you have to wonder if Trailer Trash Tracys regret their band name, because it does not at all give an inclination as to what their music sounds like. Far from the dirty, gritty sounds suggested by Trailer Trash, the Tracys have made an album of undeniable, pristine whimsy. Althaea will whisk you away to a completely foreign land of bountiful vegetation and endless scenery. Perhaps the relentless vitality and vibrancy of their sound might not be welcoming to all listeners, but for any willing to take the plunge into Althaea, there’s a whole alternate realm to be explored.