The title of the latest LP from Britain’s High Llamas could have come from a description of their music, albeit a potentially misleading one. There is both drama and allure in Cold and Bouncy’s stately staccato songs and burbling techno-doodle segues, and its bounding is more pulse-beat than pogo. A former Microdisneyan and Stereolabber still arranging for the latter, main Llama Sean O’Hagan leads his band through a fourth full-length of music that rather than using Pet Sounds as a reference point takes it as a virtual lexicon. Like Stereolab’s Tim Gane, with whom he collaborated on last year’s Turned On, O’Hagan has as an avowed goal the infusing of pop with the avant-garde, but where Gane’s pop idiom is rock, O’Hagan’s is decidedly not. Like those on its predecessor, Hawaii, Cold and Bouncy’s subtle harmonies and deft and considered arrangements, including almost-too-sweet strings and delicate, shimmering percussion, recall both the film and cocktail soundtracks of a pre-Beatles world. Total anachronism is avoided only by a liberal and unmistakably contemporary use of analog synthesizer effects for both during- and between-song atmosphere. These are frequently used playfully, as if to leaven O’Hagan’s mature melodies, which draw you in with their gradual unfolding, revealing his idea of R ‘n’ R to be more likely Riley ‘n’ Reich than rock ‘n’ roll. If Cold and Bouncy fails to invite the deeper listening it rewards, it’s perhaps because the High Llamas’ mélange of all these elements is so beguiling that their contemporary art-pop can come across as modern-day Muzak—it’s too-easy listening.—Dan Searing