Review: Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Not Animal

While you were raking leaves last September, Margot & the Nuclear So and So's released two companion albums: Animal! and Not Animal. The unusually-named, eight-piece band from Indianapolis plays a blend of alternative and chamber pop, and has been compared to The Shins and Arcade Fire.

So why isn't the band more popular? Who knows? The lyrics of Not Animal positively drip with melancholy, and they're so catchy that it doesn't matter. The band blends vocals, guitar, and piano with synth, hand claps, percussion, harmonica, bells, a trumpet and violin. And despite the large number of instruments, the band layers the songs neatly.

Not Animal starts with the soft, dreamlike "Children's Crusade on Acid," followed by the interesting, mellow "German Motor Car" and winding, ballad-like "Broadripple is Burning."

"Holy Cow!" and "Cold, Kind and Lemon Eyes" have some great instrumentation with violin and keys, and the vocals don't disappoint, either. But when "As Tall as Cliffs" finally arrives, you'll wonder why the band held out for so long. It's one of the best tracks on the album, and especially shows off their talent at percussion.

"Pages Written on a Wall," another good track, lures you in with a slow tune and then rises dramatically, favoring the brass and drums and creating an eerie mood. "Shivers (I've Got 'Em)" is also great, if a bit dark--which also stands true for the whole album.

The band is currently on tour in the US.

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