The Ladybug Transistor - Clutching Stems (3 stars)

The Ladybug Transistor - Clutching Stems

Brooklyn ensemble's seventh album of rich, hi-sheen indie-pop


The Ladybug Transistor have been making rich, hi-sheen indie-pop for 15-years – longer even than Belle & Sebastian. But the Brooklyn ensemble – a rotating cast led by Gary Olson and sharing some membership with kindred spirits The Essex Green – have tasted barely a morsel of their Scottish contemporaries’ success.

Their seventh album – the band’s first since the tragic death of drummer San Fadyl from an asthma attack in 2007 – is typical of both their growing strengths and lingering foibles. There’s lush instrumentation at work to make the heart glow fondly, but they struggle to conjure those idiosyncratically bewitching moments – gorgeous as the Johnny Marr-style 12-string guitar jangle of ‘Light on the Narrow Gauge’ and Olson’s Stephen Merritt-worthy crestfallen croon on ‘Oh Christina’ might be – sufficient to sweep you off your feet.

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