Mercifully, his latest pop machination isn't a hazy psychedelic commentary on cloned crops growing in a clandestine laboratory. Instead, his intellect demonstrates scalpel-sharp focus on the demise of historical purity, the breakdown of morality and the dissection of technology.
While previous efforts were mainly works of a mad scientist run amok, Ears Like Golden Bats employs a stable supporting posse who add colorful rhythms and fluid and ballsy temperament to his frothy beaker of '60s coolness and revivalist merriment. With bubbling harmonies and playful beats, "We'll Meet at Emily's," "That Should Stand for Something" and "Terror Bends" are entrancing, hook-laden pop pinwheels that manage to unite bleak uneasiness and optimism--both trademarks of Smith's idiosyncratic lyrical slant.
Sundry influences ranging from Phil Spector, Brian Eno and The Chills are evident on the atmospheric, gloomy pomp and circumstance of "Genie of New Jersey" and "To Live and Die in the Airport Lounge," as the prolific, chameleon-like Smith manipulates loss, space, nostalgia and darkness for personal expression. The spellbinding results are a kaleidoscopic revelation, embracing every era of pop music's vibrant memory, while simultaneously confronting a philistine culture and the loss of innocence.