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Like everything about Amsterdam indie pop group The Furtips, the story of their beginning is filled with whimsy. One Herman Bunskoeke founded the group after his old band De Artsen folded, hoping to form a Dutch equivalent to the Canadian hardcore band No Means No, but the folks he recruited -- guitarist Camille Courbois, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jane Pol, and percussionist Thom Vanderdoef -- knew nothing about hardcore and much more about making catchy and strange pop; Bunskoeke departed a year later when his other band, Bettie Serveert (a pop group, it should be noted), got big. But despite the addition of enigmatic new vocalist/bassist Royal Penguin Saver (who reportedly found his instrument in a trashcan), The Furtips did not get big, especially not in their native Holland, despite releasing a few playfully sloppy singles and a debut album, Stand Back, Speak Normally, on the Chicago label Ajax in 1995, which critics both near and far found rather agreeable.

After stumbling about for a good part of the '90s, The Furtips hooked up with the peripatetic Animal World label (now stationed in New York City), in 1998 releasing their sophomore effort, Le Louping, which is something of a document of those years of stumbling around, a compilation of songs featuring countless different drummers and a few guest musicians. The album's shambling, giddy songs pile goofy noises and cheap keyboard lines atop fuzzy guitars and roller coaster rhythms; sometimes it sounds like the band invited a bunch of prepubescent youngsters to accompany them with a variety of noisemaking devices. For the most part, the music is structured, but from time to time things go to pieces in a pleasant sort of way. All in all, The Furtips messily tuneful din tends to feel like a guileless, energetic version of their lo-fi pop compatriots from Down Under -- bands like The Bats, The Go-Betweens, and Huon. Their 2002 album, When My Baby Smiles at Me, I Go to Rio, ups the production quality (making it somewhat debatable as to whether they're strictly a "lo-fi" band anymore), while adding new focus to their brief offbeat tunes. The Furtips' knack for unconventional yet catchy melodies and delightfully strange instrumentation is sure to bring a smile to the face of any pop enthusiast.

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