Even though this Georgia-based combo's latest disc, The Optimist's Club, was issued earlier this year by Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records, it sounds like a product of Elephant 6, an imprint associated in these parts with the Apples in Stereo -- and no wonder. Cookies leader Jason NeSmith previously performed with Of Montreal, a band included in the "extended family" roster on Elephant 6's website, and his latest group, which shares this bill with Caseworker and Landlordland, draws from the same creative pool frequented by the other pachyderms. Club tells the tale of two Atlanta pals who fall in love while visiting New York, with singers NeSmith and Kay Stanton ably voicing the likes of "Kiss a Friend." But this theme is less memorable than music that balances bright melodies with ornate arrangements and oddball elements: Among the instruments listed are "toys," "green beans" and "cats." Some listeners will find the results to be unbearably cutesy, and that's understandable. Still, for those with a fondness for the Elephant 6 sound, the Cookies offer a herd's worth.
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