We recognize that ceramic panda from somewhere, but where? It’s the mascot of Bearsuit Records, whose last instrumental release, Jikan Ga Nai, greatly impressed our reviewer Chris Redfearn last year. Following their tradition of releasing unconventional records, Bearsuit has turned its attention to the duo of J-Kane and Yo-Yo Nielsen, known to the public as Whizz Kid. The album is the Bearsuit follow-up to the 2009 EP The Yellow & Blue (one track is included here) and includes all four tracks from the Elegirl EP Covered in Santa Wheels, as well as one compilation track. In short, most of the duo’s discography is here, and the earlier non-included tracks differ in timbre. (One reviewer called the debut EP “experimental indie post-rock”, which is clearly not the case here.)
There’s Conjuring to Be Done is both organic and electronic, instrument-driven and toytronic, landing halfway between Lullatone and Twink. As such, it’s an immensely appealing, happy sounding record, no surprise given its playful cover. J-Kane is described as a banjoist and Nielsen as a surfer, which just fits the bill. The oldest track, “Summer Bubbles”, glides with tube socks on a surface of polished piano and xylophone. A joyful baby gurgles with glee. On “Falling Out of Trees, Falling Down Hills”, tilted glasses are met by winding electronics and jazzy drums. When the bass enters, one begins to suspect there may be more than two people in this band, anonymous kids hiding behind Groucho glasses.
Similar timbres reappear throughout the album, bouncing like Tigger from track to track: toy bells and sweet melodies, like an out-of-season Christmas. If that’s the same child we hear at the end of “Charly Stories” (and we’re guessing that it is), he’s grown a couple years older but is no less happy. After all, what child wouldn’t want a parent who recorded this sort of music? The finest of the new selections, “Clones”, includes an explosion of horns and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scratch section. It’s a clear sign that the duo is moving forward without sacrificing any of its appeal.
Part of the joy of listening to the album as an adult is a rush of playful feelings. I am reminded of my own childhood toys and the pleasure of taking out the old Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price dolls to share with my nephew. But unlike other nostalgia-inducing albums, this one is not mired in the past. Whizz Kid appeals to the inner child. After all, there’s conjuring to be done. The last sound on the album is that of a bicycle bell, as evocative a sound as one can imagine. Adults ride bicycles too, and some of them have bells. Now that spring is here, it’s time to revisit the back of the garage and to pump some air in the tires of that old friend. (Richard Allen)