Certainly, the shadow cast by David's more prominent involvements has not eclipsed his own accomplishments: This Stuart is the underground version of a Renaissance man, a published author and aspiring artist in addition to being a capable musician. And David has developed into a leading man in his own right since amicably dropping out of Belle and Sebastian not too long ago and channeling his varied interests and skills into the artsy-fartsy high jinks of Looper's second outing, The Geometrid. Whereas the good-natured noodling and humble craft of Up a Tree made for a pleasant, though coy, first impression, the new album beams with bolder, more confident songwriting that transforms the earlier introspective tinkering into pop gems boasting an eclectic appeal. Just check out the opening three tracks, which crisscross plenty of contemporary styles, from the keyboard grooves and sampled shout-outs of the opener, "Mondo '77," to the fuzzed-out ear candy of "On the Flipside," to the ingenious "Modern Song," with its modem-driven rhythms and lo-fi trip-hop atmosphere.
What brings and keeps together the diverse approaches is David's creative focus, which gives shape to his insistent sense of wonder and sweet tooth for experimentation. On "Tomorrow's World," David conjures up a thrift-store version of space-age bachelor pad music with a Speak & Spell symphony while he and his wife, Karn, go sci-fi in the duet vocals ("And no one has traveled to Mars/And everyone would live in things called Biospheres"). A daydream of a different sort, "Money Hair," ends the album with lovey-dovey innocence and soul-like enthusiasm, floating and fluttering to peals of brassy horns. Letting his imagination go, David leaves a lasting impression all his own.