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"Rain" begins Chaim Avital's full-length debut with sparkling, light synths, a gentle piano line, and quick beats -- if anything could be said to be happily escapist in a year like 2011, it might as well be this, something designed to simply give out pleasure without ominous undertones or any lyrical baggage. The tone of much of Alive fits that, positioning itself as something constantly retro on the one hand -- certainly nodding constantly toward the overall tradition of house over several decades -- but still designed to be an immediate in-the-moment release on the other. It's not just down to house at all, either: "Love Rehab" almost sounds like a twisted ghost of prime-era Moroder/Summer collaborations, a bubbling loop straight out of the "I Feel Love" handbook echoed and volume-switched in the mix constantly, while "Robots on Meth" has a looped bassline that suggests -- but doesn't totally replicate -- Peter Hook's recognizable sonic signature for New Order's work, used in a low-key arrangement that itself doesn't resemble the legendary Mancunian act at all. If the none-more-early-electro/synth pop bassline of the album version of "U & Eye," matched by Meital De Razon's moody anguish, and the slick, sleek spookiness of the title track, celebrating the concept while everything around it feels like a cold series of signals from an abandoned urban center, suggest darker emotional paths, they always do so in a sense of fusing extremes instead of leaning one way or another. "Wish," featuring Snax on vocals, finds a different approach thanks to the woozy squelch of a synth line that constantly swoops and sounds like it might be starting to fall over during the first two minutes, before Snax takes over the verse on a much more straight-up house arrangement. The album wears out its welcome a bit toward the end, though probably individual songs would work more than the general flow in that case -- certainly "People Can Talk," with its combination of general background conversation and dark, crisp kick, ends the album on a strong note. [Some editions include a further bonus track.]

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