Relax, James Van Der Beek, you're off the hook. Ex-Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty isn't busting up a Starbucks this time around. But aside from that, Golden Delicious could be Part II of Haughty Melodic. It's another round of sunny pop melodies with a liberal helping of quirkiness and acoustic guitar. Doughty hasn't forgotten the days of El Oso, throwing in Spanish ("Wednesday [No Se Apoye]") and quasi-rap ("More Bacon Than the Pan Can Handle"). And his favorite triumvirate --- women, cars and food --- remains intact. Soul Coughing fans will probably miss the inventive musicianship, but Doughty's moved on. He's mellowed out, favoring the schoolhouse nostalgia of "27 Jennifers" over the rumpled brio of "I Miss the Girl." If you want it black, you'll have to go somewhere else.
Lust Lust Lust
Lust Lust Lust expands the playbook of Danish duo Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, if only slightly. Their Jesus and Mary Chain idolatry continues full-tilt, but on a few occasions the Raveonettes use conspicuous beats to punch up their songs. Lead-off track "Aly, Walk with Me" doesn't so much walk as swaggers, the kick-kick-snare rhythm giving it body. Overall, though, this album, like their others, is all about guitar. The Raveonettes work on two levels: fuzzy and fuzzier. Usually they favor a gentle approach, relying greatly on reverb to construct their sound net. But in "Aly, Walk with Me," they unleash torrents of distortion. The aggression is a welcome constrast to the rut of similarity they can sometimes trap themselves in. The album's real treat is "You Want the Candy," a sparkling euphoria of chimes over surf-rock guitar. Each chorus delivers another rush of Pixy Stix rapture. Of course, it's not as innocent as it comes on, with "I hooked myself on you" and "I plowed my way through hell" being a good indication that when the Raveonettes sing, "Gimme some C," the C doesn't stand for chocolate.
Restless as always, Goldfrapp make their fourth album another transformation. They shed their Supernature nightclub gear, take the back door, and step straight into a field of dewy wheat stalks. Wait a minute: Where'd the field come from? In the holodeck world of Seventh Tree, images are transitory. Sounds, too. Forgettable, in other words. Principally soft and airy, Seventh Tree whiles away its 40-some minutes drifting through a pastoral landscape. But the easy-listening strings and acoustic guitars can't shake the electronic touches that peek through like cracks in the simulation.
Thursday, May 8, 2008