David Fonseca

Between Waves

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Between Waves could have been just a slightly old-fashioned guitar pop album -- retro because it is easier that way, not because it is a deliberate homage to old heroes -- were it not for Fonseca's crooner aspirations and love of lyrical clich├ęs, which make the record stand aside from the pack somewhat, though not necessary in a good way. The music is not ripping off anyone in particular, but the reverb-filled guitar textures and background synths straight out of a Julia Roberts movie ring with the "been there" vibe, which is amplified by the fact that every tune follows the same template -- all of these midtempo rockers are tailor-made for charts, though they would seem more at home in a Top Ten from Huey Lewis & the News' heyday, not in a Lady Gaga, post-MJ world. But Fonseca himself goes for an Elvis impersonation on Between Waves, although he actually sounds more like a Chris Isaak who became a seaside gigolo swooning dames in a open-air karaoke bar -- not because his voice is lacking strength (quite the opposite, in fact), but because the vocal lines are brimming with saccharine and come across as sleazy or, at best, insincerely sappy. The lyrics really don't help, either -- the word "love" is mercilessly abused, and almost every hackneyed rhyme worn out by decades of lounge crooning also makes an appearance. That said, Between Waves is actually a fun album because it delivers what it promises -- it has simple but nice hooks and is pleasantly romantic despite the kitsch (or, more likely, thanks to it). But it's hard not to wonder where Fonseca could have landed if he had traded the self-centered blindness of a playboy for a tinge of irony in both lyrics and music.

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