If the thought of child-song and trees houses curls your fingers into a fist, then Looper’s spaceboy dream is not for you. Chief Looper Stuart David is, after all, the Other Stuart in Belle & Sebastian(he actually wrote ‘Spaceboy Dream’ on the last record)and he brings with him the wide-eyed worldview of that Brit-lauded outfit.
The odd tale of how Looper- Stuart David, his artist wife Karn, and his photographer brother Ronnie – came to be is told on ‘Impossible Things #2’: a girl called Karen starts writing to a boy she doesn’t even know. He dubs her Wee Karn and seven years on they are man, wife and multimedia outfit. It’s a charming yarn, if you vanquish all cynicism – and Looper are all about doing just that. What’s remarkable, though, is that this modern-day fairy tale is buoyed along by crackling breakbeats, a flute loop, a quacking harmonica and a sticky-fingered sense of fun that infects the entire record.
For Loooper’s musical charms are actually far greater than those of the little scenarios that David narrates like a U-rated Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap. For all the appeal of the stories – the one about the moon landings being faked (‘Dave The Moonman’), for instance, or the one about meeting Columbo (‘Columbo’s Car’) – it’s the deft beats, synth burbles and sampled loops underpinning them that inspire. This is a record in love with childhood, but its cheeky groove is often closer to the mash-up of big beat than it is to the fey gambol of Looper’s precious ancestors, with the ‘Ballad Of Ray Suzuki’, for example, sounding like Bentley Rhythm Ace in short trousers.
‘Up A Tree’ is a spaceboy’s dream made real: the future, all shiny with buttons and things, brought down to earth, child-sized. It’s hard to resist.