Like the most adept synthesists of ‘80s club music -- Morgan Geist (Metro Area), Stuart Price (Zoot Woman), Trevor Jackson (Playgroup) -- Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser know their history inside-out and how to manipulate the studio gear that made it. The two have the total package, including but not limited to the zipping synthetic basslines, the wriggling rhythm-guitar lines, the torrents of fleet drums, and the melancholy vocals over a sound that is altogether colorful and uplifting. It’s all done with studious attention to detail and total sincerity, even when they evoke uncool-as-of-2011 mid-'80s reference points like Sly Fox (Frankel’s sung/rapped delivery on “Do It Again”) and stadium-era Simple Minds (the frosty piano on “Wait and See”). The same goes for the keyboard-triggered vocal chirps, the plastic horns, and -- oh yeah -- Michael McDonald, who’s on the glistening midtempo closer “Slow Children,” not as a stunt but out of necessity. (Frankel had written a part out of his range and used some connections to enlist the soft rock icon.) Three tracks from the duo’s 2007-2010 run of singles and EPs are woven into the sequence, and they’re naturally among the album’s highlights. The new songs are, for the most part, up to that high standard. What doesn’t make a direct hit on the hips and heart is, at the least, well constructed.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman