But The Kingsbury Manx are not even remotely a retro act, nor do they ape other bands. Like the acts just name-checked, they show an adherence to songcraft, well-crafted arrangements and emotive power. And it's no fluke that the new CD was produced by Wilco's Mikael Jorgensen, who gives it a crystal clear shine similar to Wilco's A Ghost Is Born.
The Fast Rise is largely a keyboard driven affair, with brief solos in "Nova" and "10008" and a guitar freak-out at the end of "Ol' Mountainsides" the only significant guitar leads. Otherwise, it's pianos, organs, synths, mellotrons, Wurlitzers and more driving the clear-eyed, striking pop songs. The songcraft here is exquisite--Brian Wilson (or Paul McCartney or Air or Elliot Smith or Steely Dan) would probably delight in the un-fussy, simple but swoony arrangements and Bill Taylor's richly evocative vocals on "Animations," "Snow Angel Dance" or "Harness and Wheel." The Fast Rise is A-list pop from start to finish.