The Album Network, June 28, 2002

"Overflowing with violins, harpsichords, French horns, surprising progressions and divine melodies, Kristian Hoffman's & is the record that every fan of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Kinks and great songcraft in general has been pining for over the long decades between." Couldn't ask for a better opening line than that; thank you, Greg Burk of the L.A. Weekly. But Mr. Burk doesn't stop there with the superlatives, calling Hoffman "…the most skillful American pop songwriter under the age of 51." We don't understand the age reference, but the rest of the statement is pretty darn accurate. Kristian Hoffman is, indeed, almost blessedly skilled, and for his latest opus, &, he's invited 15 of his musical friends and acquaintances (Van Dyke Parks, Rufus Wainwright, Maria McKee, Lydia Lunch, Paul Rubens and more) to join him in an eclectic selection of some of the best songs he's ever written.

Perhaps a little history is in order. Kristian first came to attention with Lance Loud (star of the original reality TV series, An American Family) in The Mumps, a brash, late-'70s smart-rock combo, but unfortunately, their intelligent and sarcastic pop/rock was a bit too hip for the room, a problem that has plagued Hoffman ever since.

Thankfully, he's never felt the need to "dumb it down" for mass consumption, so the songs still don't insult your intelligence, but for &, the addition of other voices and textures adds nicely to the proceedings throughout. With & Kristian Hoffman has come up with a collection of worthy tunes that, in a perfect world, should succeed on a "mass quantities" level - even despite its excellence!

- John Easdale

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