Label: Serious Business Records Website: Myspace Arriving late to the fuzzy-pop psychedelic party, no doubt with acknowledging glances to Crystal Stilts and Wavves as they entered, The Octagon deliver a satisfying record. The New York trio have perfected the art of sounding like an ill Hold Steady recorded on a mobile phone (or a true cynic could say they shamelessly emulate Guided By Voices: because they do) and seem to equally enjoy letting a tune fall apart as they do crafting it in the first place. As important as it is not to judge a book by its cover, those rules go out of the window for cute seals, and The Octagon enter the cute-seal-on-the-cover charts at number one. To see sixteen tracks, most clocking in at around two minutes and fifty seconds, on the listing hints at the scatterbrained approach; while pacing, structure and even volume see them racing in opposite directions, not one of them lies outside of the lo-fi fog. Opener ‘Suicide Kings’ starts abruptly, leaving you suspicious that it’s been playing minutes without you, then, true to the immediately established form, the verse exits early and before you know it you’re caught in a delightful chorus both tuneful and discordant. Only for the song to cave in on itself, seeming as though they were so keen to play the awesome chorus that they didn’t really consider what would follow. This is the first glimpse of the strangely endearing ethics at the heart of The Octagon, an enthusiastic sloppiness that is the musical equivalent of colouring with crayons and crossing the lines. An ethic that happily parades around for the next couple of tracks, waving harmonies and breakdowns at all and sundry, in a charmingly upfront, simple Weezer-ish way. Admittedly, Weezer minus a lot of polish and pop nous. Fourth track ‘Radio Days’ reins thing in a bit with a loosely post-punk sound and ‘Hound Adams’ has a witty stab at Nirvana, in an unremarkable mid-section to the album. ‘Stop Snitchin’’ is the first song to recover the catchiness and momentum of the opener, even while keeping up the drunken flirt with a fuzzy chaos. In a surprising turn ‘Tommy Bones’ comes across as a more sincere sounding Kings of Leon around the time of ‘King of the Rodeo’ with, needless to say, that familiar haze added. Penultimate track “One Five Five” bears witness to the most obvious attempt to build a song, but promptly abandons that for blurry guitars and slurred vocals. The biggest flaw to be found within ‘Warm Love and Cool Dreams Forever’ is its sheer sameness, lacking any real landmarks to separate a slew of similar songs. The second biggest flaw is that it never harnesses its sound, it’s lo-fi almost out of sheer laziness and impatience. The way that Mclusky, Girls and Blank Dogs have used those rough edges to enhance their sound, even to such different ends, is an achievement I can never see The Octagon making, in fact I doubt they want to. That said I’m glad they lack the pretension of The Black Lips and several other similar sounding bands, it leaves this album as something to enjoy at face value. The confidence to just let an album be what it is; an attribute rarely seen, but ‘Warm Love and Cool Dreams Forever’ has it in abundance, remaining content to be as fun, dumb and confused as the seal on its cover seems. Maybe that makes it at times stubborn and difficult, even disappointing, but more often than not it makes it loveable and admirable, just not necessarily impressive or brilliant. Photobucket