Deni Bonet

Bigger Is Always Better

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In addition to her duties as an arranger and accompanist for hire, violinist Deni Bonet has been releasing her own music since 1996. Finally, in 2001, her full-length debut appeared, giving adult music lovers a reason to rejoice. It's a glorious, intelligent hookfest, the likes of which listeners have desperately needed since pop became a marketing strategy for Mickey Mouse Club graduates. Most of the songs on Bigger Is Always Better (available from www.denibonet.com) first appeared on a pair of EPs. While most have been re-recorded to give them an extra polish, the results do not sound tame or slick. From the dirty guitar lick that opens "I Scream Your Name" to the sunny "yeah yeah yeah" chorus of "Then I'll Really Love You" and the goofy loops of "Phat, Stoopid, and Totally Def," Bonet and her band sound so high-spirited, it's a wonder they don't burst right off the disc. Despite her virtuosity, she never lets her violin playing distract from a catchy tune or a witty lyric. Instead, she saves all the showing off for an instrumental cheekily titled "The Goddamn Violin Solo." Unfortunately, the track lives up to its name. It disrupts the flow of the album just as it's galloping to a conclusion. (If a display of prowess was necessary, the one-and-a-half-minute interlude "Tick-Tock" would have sufficed.) There are other flaws. The album's high point, the magnificent self-love anthem "Sunshine," is marred by the inelegant bleeping of its one climactic obscenity. And Bonet sings with such passion, one wishes she wouldn't rely on her speaking voice in quite so many songs. It would take a true curmudgeon, though, to hear the boundless enthusiasm and abundant talent that went into Bigger Is Always Better and not forgive the album's faults.

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