Amiable English singer/songwriter Matt Hales brought his well-crafted, commercially viable adult alternative rock sound over to the United States in 2005 with Strange and Beautiful, a compilation of material from his two U.K. albums that proved as popular overseas as it did in his homeland. A frequent song contributor to popular television shows and films (A Lot Like Love, Gossip Girl, Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill), Aqualung's latest offering falls in the same lush, midtempo camp as Keane and Coldplay, while retaining enough self-effacing humor and warmth to avoid the two aforementioned group's penchant for banal pretense. Nearly all of the material on Words & Music operates in the same theater of midtempo balladry that one would expect from an artist who consistently winds up in films like Wicker Park, but like Rufus Wainwright or Scandinavian crooner Sondre Lerch, there's a lightness to songs like "When I Finally Get My Own Place," "7 Keys," and "Good Goodnight" that keeps the proceedings palatable, even as they're disappearing out of the other ear.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger