One of the most entertaining -- and yet incomplete -- entries in the 20th Century Masters series, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Brit Pop features ten songs that circle the golden age of mid-'90s Brit-pop. Out of the entire track listing, Suede's "Animal Nitrate" and Elastica's "Stutter" are the only songs that really capture the stylish, swaggering sound of the era in its heyday; while the Happy Mondays' "Step On" and the Charlatans' "The Only One I Know" are great singles, they define the baggy/Madchester-era sound that predated the Brit-pop movement of bands like Blur, Oasis, and the aforementioned Suede and Elastica by a few years. Likewise, Cast's "Finetime" comes from the beginning of Brit-pop's end, when group's such as Reef, Dodgy, and Kula Shaker began taking the style's mod-inspired sound in a different direction. Meanwhile, the dour catchiness of Monaco's "What Do You Want from Me?" owes more to post-punk and synth pop, which only makes sense since the band was the brainchild of New Order's Peter Hook. Indeed, the Jam's "A Town Called Malice" -- which was recorded and released a full decade before anyone even coined the term "Brit-pop" -- is arguably one of the most Brit-pop songs on this collection. Nitpicking aside, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Brit Pop is more entertaining than it has any right to be, but Anglophiles and Brit-pop purists may be disappointed with its somewhat random song selections.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares