Established fans of this scrappy Irish quartet may be startled by the band's slight turn toward electronica on its fourth studio album, but there's no need to fear: the focus is still on bittersweet melody and whimsical lyrics. Lines like "Bring your canary, bring your flame" and "I'd say life's a different story when you're facing certain death" and entire songs like the snotty, raunchy "One Stringed Harp" offer an interesting counterbalance to what are often delicately beautiful arrangements and tunes; on "The Great Defector" a slightly off-kilter verse slides into a startlingly simple and lovely hook in the chorus, all the while flirting with a ska beat. (It also features the couplet "You're the chocolate at the end of my cornetto/I love the way your underwire bra sets off that X-ray machine.") "Blow Ins" is subtly lounge-flavored until the gentle vocals come in and change the whole mood; "Breastfed," oddly enough, is written in 7/4. If you're looking for more cowbell, then try the relatively rockish "A Better Band," and if you're looking for less melody, try the weirdly tuneless "How Your Heart Is Wired." Blue Lights on the Runway
is one of those rare albums that you can pretend to like for its alt-credibility while secretly just enjoying it for the hooks.