Fitness Forever


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Fitness Forever's second album Cosmos finds the crew of Italian sound travelers taking a journey even deeper into the smoothly orchestrated, easy listening heart of the late '60s/early '70s. Their first album was already a very slick amalgamation of Bacharachian pop, cheesy disco, and A&M Records-style lite pop that was seamlessly whipped into a frothy mixture by the group's maestro Carlos Valderrama. Here, he adjusts the focus so it's even softer and more carefully arranged. Using a large cast of vocalists, a full studio worth of strings and horns, and filling every inch of the mix with fuzzy sound, Valderrama creates a feel that is sumptuous and a bit decadent. Especially on the showy ballads, like "Vederti Distante" or "Lui," where the strings get very swoony and the harmony vocals have a heavenly feel. Elsewhere the group make music that sounds like it's from the soundtrack to an old Muppets movie ("Il Cane Ciuff"), is dreamily sweet ("Laura"), or so cheesily disco that it feels piped in from a cruise ship dancefloor in the mid-'70s ("Cosmos," "Disco Quiz"). Whatever they do, the group always sounds fully committed, and there are no false steps or jarringly modern touches. Cosmos is wonderfully retro-modern from beginning to end, full of great songs and sounds that are soothingly warm, while still being a little weird. The album has all the hallmarks of a thrift store find that you'd buy for the corny album cover, only to discover that the music on the record was actually kind of amazing.

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