This collection of songs is best described as an amalgamation of leather chaps, slinky feather boa, jester hats with big jingly bells and walking on your hands. On the mother ship. Mostly disregarding lazy comparisons to fellow Sheffield-ites, Pulp, and kooky old fellows, The Cardiacs, while influences are inevitable, here is a quartet that are in blinding contrast to anyone else I've heard for a long while. Though, what turns out to be an eccentric and rather clever mix of the medieval and the secret life of the nerd, starts with a certain droll ambience and this review was almost something entirely different, thanks to the slow staccato monotone with which this album begins, a sound I can't imagine anyone would want to hear live or otherwise. Apart from malfunctioning robots. Maybe this bit was too complex for me to get my head round. But I hated it.

Fortunately, however, matters somewhat improve and I realise that it is, in fact, a blessing that Champion Kickboxer's geekiness was not extracted in the schoolyard. Remaining stuff only for the ears of the musically perverse but building on a restrained and therefore typically English use of melody and harmony, many tracks are almost theatrical in structure, following a story throughout yet unique in form, their lutes made out of some kind of futuristic tin foil which they strum along to their well-crafted choral rounds. Which is obviously where their fighting power comes from, deceptively simple yet seemingly packed with a tuneful kick in the right places. And with an adequate dose of cyniscism which brainwashes me into liking something so shockingly self-indulgent and, at times, so similar to Super Furry Animals. While their endearing and innocent Belle and Sebastian side is well demonstrated in "Frog and mouse", the magical atomic-fuelled "Like him+him+her+me" and the subtly moving and twinkly glockenspiel infused "Thinking" further build up a lush layered sound, that, by no means your standard fare, prompts me to recommend you send out the signal. Before these guys fly off. Because I don't think this is a long-lived affair. And is unlikely to spawn a scene. Because something this different can only be a one-off. Perhaps they might even call it special.

Anna C