Since this album landed on my doormat, I have been frustratingly slow in getting around to sitting down to review it. (Don't worry, I shan't be regaling you with my best 'late homework' excuses.) Busy busy busy aside, Stanley should take this as a bit of a compliment, as I find it hardest to review albums that I really, really like. Especially albums as bloody weird as this one.
For weird it is. Scottish five-piece Stanley have managed to concoct a record that borders on the bizarre, but is utterly compelling. Thirty seconds of album opener 'Join Hands' and it's not hard to see why: frontman Podlesny's syrupy vocal is as captivating as it is dark. It is a record full of contradictions: 'Edit The Night' a prime example of this as it melts together dark country and western and beautifully harmonised, brass-edged folk. There's never opportunity to get comfortable though - the following 'Monkeys and Friends' takes you in a more electronic direction, evocative of what Franz Ferdinand might have achieved if they hadn't bothered getting massive. 'Leave It Up To You' soars with its black cabaret brass, dancing confidently on the right side of comic (it's hard to tell whether tongue is in cheek or not in places).
It's not many bands that can manage to be reminiscent of The Divine Comedy, Franz Ferdinand, Jarvis Cocker and a Tim Burton soundtrack all at the same time, AND get away with it. Aside from being an inefficient reviewer, every time I've listened to 'Animals With Amazing Disguises' there's another layer that reveals itself and forces me to rethink it all over again. Which makes it bloody hard to pin down what's so damned good about it. But damned good it is. Why this lot aren't huge yet is beyond me. Essential listening.