She may not be sporting a lacy bra and bleach blonde hair, but Cherilyn MacNiel, of Dear Reader, will undoubtedly tickle your musical bone if not the one downstairs, unless of course you’re into girls with short hair and a quirky dress sense. Idealistic Animals is Dear Reader’s second studio album and if their first was considered sweet then this one is sweeter.

The album starts off slowly with Fox, giving us an introduction to the emotional content of the rest of the tracks. We realise quickly that MacNiel is more than just a pretty face and as the album progresses her metaphorical voice becomes louder through the music. This is a woman with something to say and she says it with a perfect balance of playful sounds and up-beat drumming.

Idealistic Animals would fit perfectly into your road-tripping playlist, with TV-game-like sounds throughout the album and tracks like Bear which speaks about being young, making one feel like a bit of a kid again, ideal for the majority of the male species who very often forget they’re not twelve anymore.

Anybody who has ever been lonely can relate to Mole and for you all you guys that won’t admit you’ve ever been heart-broken there is Camel which speaks about having had love and losing it. Beware of the acoustic version on the second disk as it will pull on those heart strings you never knew you had.

The second disc contains a mixture of acoustic and live versions of Monkey, Whale, Camel, Mole and Bear, perfect for when you just want to chill and reflect on how your day went. These versions are raw and get right into the grit of the emotion behind them, stripped away from all the fancy melodies and cool drumming.

Probably the coolest thing about Idealistic Animals is its ambiguity. We never know exactly who or what is being referred to, especially in Earthworm and Giraffe, and the use of animals as song titles only adds to the whole mystery of it all. Just like most of you don’t ever really show your true emotions, neither does this album ever uncover its true meaning, but that is what makes it even more exciting and it’s the reason why we women just can’t get enough of you guys.

MacNiel achieves what many artists strive for and that is to make us as listeners stop and think. Man is a good example as by giving the song this title, she suggests that we as humans are mere animals, not different to any other species that roams the earth and Whale alludes to global warming and the environment. This album is anything but shallow and shows great character behind the playful melodies and cute animal metaphors. MacNeil wants to be heard and we should listen. If you buy this album and decide you don’t like it all that much then give it to your girlfriend and you might get more than just your musical bone tended to.

– Jean Jacobs