April 2003

The Late B.P. Helium
"Kumquat Mae"

Having liberated himself from the somewhat more dour and surreal confines of Elf Power, bassist the Late B.P. Helium (aka Bryan Poole) bursts forth with much sunny cheer and straightforward pop for his first extended release. Leaning toward the more McCartney-esque side of the Elephant 6 spectrum, Poole's work is both upbeat and cerebral and very much rooted in an early-'70s aesthetic that at times resembles Emitt Rhodes (as it does on the closing track, Don't Let Me Wait Too Long). Contrary to its title, The Weeping Soul has a decidedly exultant, Penny Lane-type feel to it that mixes horns, synth flourishes, and a marching Brian Wilson piano rhythm underlying the track. Cuban Sunrise is a laid-back and jaunty tune that's effectively set aloft by a Caribbean-styled melody plucked out on acoustic guitar. Song for Marie, with its breezy feel and lighthearted lyric, is probably not as resonant as I Won't Break (To You), which maintains a measured, Robyn Hitchcock-like feel with the addition of more supportive string work. His live set of this period, however, is far more guitar-driven and one would imagine future releases to be somewhere along those lines. In the interim, this record is an interesting and pleasing teaser of a smart pop talent just coming to flower.

Joe Silva