Well, there's certainly no flies on New York's Dog on Fleas. Flies on fleas? Huh? What I mean by that is that their last album, When I Get Little, was a fabulous little piece of sun-kissed Dan Zanes-ian roots-pop, and it would have been very easy for the band to turn out another collection of free-range music.
But for whatever reason (including the departure of a couple band members to other things), the band has taken a somewhat different approach on this new CD. There's a lot of experimentation here, even more than you'd expect from a Dog on Fleas disk. Some of it sounds great -- "I Love Your Accent" is little more than the song title sung in falsetto and people reciting where they're from (from around the world), but it's lots of fun and very global in its worldview, obviously. "Unbirthday" is a raucous, occasionally distorted celebration of each person's other 364 days of the year. I was much less enthused by "Star Tonight" and "Do You Wanna Know My New Dance Step?," two funky tunes that didn't have that dancing spark Fleas tunes often have. My general feeling is that the second half of the album is less "experimental" and will be more familiar to long-time listeners.
There are a number of guest musicians on the album. Lorette Velvette takes lead vocals on the storytelling "Lima Bean," with Uncle Rock providing backup assistance. Frances England joins with Pia Ruissi-Besates on the gorgeous and mellow album-closer "Babies." (The song would have fit perfectly on the band's Dean Jones' lullaby(-ish) album Napper's Delight.)
As with most Dog on Fleas tunes, the 35-minute album doesn't quite have an age range, but let's say it's most appropriate for ages 3 through 9. You can hear samples at the album's CD Baby page.
Beautiful World isn't as fun as their last album, When I Get Little, and if you're new to the band, I'd recommend starting there first. And if you're a huge fan of that CD, it may take a while to get used to the new sounds here. But there are a lot of good songs and the lyrics are filled with love for the world and its inhabitants. There are many worse ways to spend 35 minutes dancing with your kids. Recommended.