The Books' first album was an enigma - a kinetic, fascinating, and obscure sound collage that lapsed into periods of beauty or total abstraction. Their second album, The Lemon of Pink, was interesting but not as momentous as I wanted it to be. Their latest, Lost and Safe, departs from their sound even further, although it is clear that some of the songs are cruising - it's not as inspired as Thought for Food, but I think that despite the strangeness of hearing actual lyrics and the presence of some bum tracks, it is a great success.
The opening track is excellent, though it sounds nothing like a Books song. It's calm and quiet but well-crafted. "Be Good to Them Always" and "Smells Like Content" aren't bad songs certainly, but they are wordy and busy without the awesome spasticity and constant changeup of songs from their first album. "Vogt Dig for Kloppervok" strikes a more even tone, though some may dislike the buzzing, vibrating tone of the singer's voice. "It Never Changes to Stop" is a simpler track but affecting - the samples are more consistent, a guitar lick present throughout the song, both grounding the song and driving it along its course. The thumping buildup of "An Animated Description of Mr. Maps" is good for as long it is instrumental - the lyrics merely complicate it later. The rest of the tracks follow a similar progression - the instrumentation and sampling are faultless, but when the singing comes in, it's a matter of taste whether you like it or not.
The Books have changed their sound, and whether you've listened to them before or not, this album deserves a listen. It certainly strikes new chords, but at the risk of alienating their former fans. The singing isn't bad (usually), but it's of an unfamiliar color on the canvas the Books have been painting. Give it a shot, but if you haven't heard these guys before, start with their first album.
Here's "A Little Longing Goes Away," and "Vogt Dig for Kloppervogt."