So badly off-putting. In the second half of '09 I heard the record for the first time and I love it to death but it didn't occur to me too much how much of a stumbling block it was until I played the album to my Mum, brother (16) and his girlfriend over Christmas. They all agreed that the instrumentation and storytelling aspects are brilliant (they are), but they couldn't stand his vocals. Since then I've been wincing a bit.
It is a terrific album but, in many ways like The Soft Bulletin, the stretched, affectless vocals let the record down. In a sense they suit, but I think that once I started really getting into the record I got used to Mangum and started using the 'oh well it works on the record quite well' excuse. On some tracks like Holland, 1945 they sound a whole lot better. But really, on balance, they are by a long way the worst thing about it.