The Pastels have always moved slow, and so one shouldn't be surprised that their
relations in their Geographic family operate at a similar pace. As far
as Pastel relations go, International Airport are pretty closely related.
A loose-limbed branch of the Geo- family tree, they're fronted by Pastels
collaborateur (and former Appendix Out member) Tom Crossley, and center
on his union with longtime Pastel Annabel Crossley (née Wright,
Aggi Pastel). International Airport a kind of Glaswegian scene-collective
whose live shows were an ever-changing staple of the city's musical community
through 1997 and 1998 first committed their rambling, shambling,
narcotic outsider-pop shtick to disc on 2000's fabulous Nothing We
Can Control, an album whose release provided one of the defining
blocks on which the "hand-made" Geographic aesthetic was first laid.
The record stitched together analog, digital, acoustic, and woodwind
elements with a beautiful rough-sewn/rough-hewn charm. (It was also,
in a local note, a big influence on eager eight-wheeler pop-kombi Architecture
in Helsinki, its soft sittings and soft-focus settings of melodica, clarinet,
keytone, tuned percussion, and crossed-up vocals all things treasured
by that band's boss, Cameron Bird.) In true Pastelesque fashion, it's
taken International Airport a full four years to get around to this follow-up, Reunion
of Island Goose, a suitably slow-moving set that, in straggling through
a menagerie of instruments making many a melancholy melange, somehow
stumbles on a couple of top-notch pop songs. Both "Reason" and "Association" are
blessed with melody so exuberant it transforms Tom's hoarse voice into
some sort of smooth Crossley croon. Whilst such songs stand out (and
stand away, even; "Association" was released as a single in which Teenage
Fanclub helped out with a couple reversions) on the record, they are
not symbolic of a changing aesthetic, or even of an album that is patchy
in any way. Crossley is still commanding a straggling crew of many players
crouching down on a stage strewn with many cables. He's still fashioning
opaque soundscapes in which organic and electronic seem seamlessly entwined.
And this time around he's even captured the qualities of such sound in
words, "Cordial Arrest" opening with the sung sentiments: "Ocean breeze/
Xylophones/ And broken tiles and stones/ Swim around in dust/ Illuminous."