Between Darkness and Wonder

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Once the most intriguing act fusing electronica with singer/songwriter pop, Lamb unfortunately impress much less on their fourth album than they did in the past. While Louise Rhodes' vocals still lie on the acceptable side of eccentric, Andy Barlow's productions have been defanged; no longer surprising and innovative, they exist as merely proper frameworks for the songs. The long roster here of Pro Tools engineers and studio players makes much of the difference, adding a next-generation sound to the work but eliminating the freshness Lamb productions used to possess. A pair of introspective, experimental pieces ("Darkness," "Stronger") make for a brilliant beginning, but the rest of the record includes a few tender acoustic ballads ("Angelica" is the best) that barely profit from the programmed percussion, and a compelling but nearly meaningless update of Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune." Between Darkness and Wonder is hardly a tragedy in Lamb's discography, but the duo's longtime ability to sacrifice neither pop smarts nor production bite was a hallmark that no other act could lay claim to.

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