In ‘Idealistic Animal’, Dear Reader – aka 28 year old Cheri MacNeil – has created a break-up record in an untraditional sense, that, rather then being a heart strung album of woe over the breakdown of a relationship with a person, is about a breakdown in religious belief.

Her loss of faith isn’t the only change to occur, either – MacNeil also separated from musical partner Darryl Torr for her sophomore album and she relocated from South Africa to Berlin. Regardless, these changes haven’t enticed her to rebel and seek a new artistic direction at all; they’ve steeled her to cleverly construct an album of folk-tinged art-pop that positively vibrates with character.

Some songs, such as the grandiose ‘Man (Idealistic Animals)’, will attract loose comparisons to flame-haired songstress Florence & The Machine, but on the whole Dear Reader spends her time residing in a different musical landscape far closer to the classy idiosyncratic pop of Feist, St Vincent and, on ‘Camel (Not Black or White but Camel), the lush melodies of Beach House. It mean ‘Idealistic Animal’ stands as a charmingly grown up record with a playful personality that’s worth checking out.

By Nathan Westley

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