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You hear all this? Piano as soft as early-morning sunlight, a warbly voice just waking up, the clatter of someone bumping into a table. The piano comes up to run through some scales, and we hear the clang of pots, the twang of a banjo, the words “the lemon of pink” produced from between pouty, sophisticated lips. Then: creek sloshing, cow mooing, old man wailing. The Books don’t write songs so much as do clip-jobs, making like Steve Reich if he had Prefuse 73’s hard drive. On the title track of their second and latest LP, The Lemon of Pink, the New York/North Adams, Mass., duo pile up the sounds, cutting and pasting so much that each cut forms a beat, a march into Appalachia ending with the line “My nose keeps running,” the sound of an amplified sniffle, and a question: “Are we, like, major or minor, anyway?” It’s beautiful for what it does: moving us from the bedroom to the hills and then back to the bedroom studio—not to mention away from today’s overtly political (Negativland), overtly dull (Godspeed You Black Emperor!), and overtly trendy (Múm) modes of ambience. Goodbye sleek city and downtempo dopes; hello rough-edged countryside and bluegrass turntablists. Though the Books’ 2002 debut, Thought for Food, relied occasionally on glitchy beats, this time around, the group anchors its songs with repetitive cooing from male and female vocalists and the old-fashioned rhythms of stringed instruments. Whether on the twangy “Take Time,” the synth-poppy “There Is No There,” or the relatively bluesy “Don’t Even Sing About It,” the effect is joyfully mesmerizing. You stop making lists of what the band has found. You stop caring that it’s fucked with Harry Smith and Dock Boggs. And when the Books are at their very best—as on “The Future, Wouldn’t That Be Nice”—you even stop caring about what happens next: the pop of hand claps and the rattle of something, the creak of a chair and the groan of a cello, some canned applause and a thousand pixelated guitar notes, beats, and voices. If you listen for a moment, you’ll want each one to last forever. —Jason Cherkis