Breakfast with Girls

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Breakfast with Girls lists a few ancillary musicians in its credits, but Self is really the combined compositional, performance, and recording effort of Mike Mahaffey, an obsessive near-genius almost overcome by his own talent. There are more textures on this 1999 DreamWorks disc than a carpet store sample rack, as Mahaffey packs countless musical dialects into his progressive pop. Elements of jazz, rock, and world music get pasted into three-minute experiments which, while impressive, don't necessarily make Breakfast with Girls a compelling listen. Mahaffey's concoctions dazzle at the expense of melody and immediacy, leaving an unnatural air surrounding his work. While fellow artists and critics marvel (appropriately) at Mahaffey's instrumental dexterity and clever wordplay, less studious listeners might feel challenged by all the high contrast ornamentation. The musical humanism that respects craft, but is not entirely immersed in it, lifts the work of other pop tweakers like Beck, E, and Jon Brion above Self's esoteric exercises.

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