Ad Frank

Ad Frank

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A charmingly ramshackle solo debut from the former leader of Miles Dethmuffen and Permafrost, 1999's Ad Frank is at times almost too low-key. For the most part, John Bean's production suits Frank's wry and rueful songs well, particularly on the hopeless-sounding "You May Already Be a Winner" (which features a brilliant chorus sung by Cindy Goh of the Boston indie poppers Jumprope) and the album's absolutely perfect high point, "Postpunk at Cambridgeside Mall," an achingly emotional song about the mixed feelings engendered by a run-in with just the sort of obnoxious teenagers one used to be oneself. However, the album is sequenced imperfectly, with a pair of nothing-special solo acoustic tunes (a new version of Miles Dethmuffen's "Sleeping Bag" and a surprising cover of Romeo Void's "Flash Flood") placed against each other two-thirds of the way through, a pleasant but essentially redundant dance remix ("You May Already Be a Whiner"), and a Tom Laughlin monologue from Billy Jack bracketing "Postpunk," robbing it of some of its power. Fully a third of the album could have been dropped with no harm done, but the remaining two-thirds is clever, melodic pop/rock with smart-alecky but perceptive lyrics.

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