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‘Animal Races’ gets you from the start. The opener, from which the album gets its name, is Velvetsy (‘Loaded’-era tones) power pop with touches of the Apples in Stereo. A great start, if not an exact harbinger for what follows – the rest of the album settles down to spacey Americana that is cosmic but not corny. Fear not, there is no clichéd earnest introspection puking all over the album; instead it is ambitious, sometimes metaphysical, at other points personal, but always bedded in great songwriting and meticulously warm, unfussy production.

‘When You Were Gone’ is just beautiful. It ties together so many references that I personally love: beginning like the Modern Lovers with some Lee Ronaldo-style vocals (not to mention guitar picking reminiscent of his solo albums rather than Sonic Youth), it develops into something that has the emotional pull of the second side of ‘The Guilded Palace of Sin and Burritos’ when Parsons really strains and the guitars are mournful.

It’s followed by a Bakersfield Sound-style drinking song that lightens the mood. The track progression implies that this album was crafted as an album rather than a collection of cynical attention-grabbing tracks. It’s a treat, if you like this sort of thing. It is musically interesting, has strange but engaging themes, and brims with personality and humour. There is, however, one caveat: ‘Sundial’ sounds like ‘Times Like These’ by the Foo Fighters – I tend to skip it. Don’t let that slight misdemeanour put you off.

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