Thao and The Get Down Stay Down

We The Common

(Ribbon/Domino)

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Like Dawn French in that wizened advertising campaign, I foresee my response should anyone try to seize this bewitching record from me: "It's not Thao's (or anybody else's). It's MINE!". This third full outing by Ms Nguyan, Adam Thompson and the rest of her motley collective contains 12 tracks that manage to sound entirely different while still cut from the same lush, languid, Californian cloth. It's an American folk record, a 1990s hip-hop record, a dance record or a mardi gras record, or maybe an all-of-the-above record, always with Nguyan at the centre, sounding three-parts Suzanne Vega and two-parts Kim Deal, demanding mainstream attention with a torrent of musings whose irreverence beguiles you before their wisdom clunks you on the head. "Everybody has a body of love / Yes, we get naked but not naked enough," she declares in what could be a mission statement for the endless inventiveness on offer. On this effortless form, maybe only St Vincent or Sufjan Stevens are so consistently engaging.

Steven Vass