Blinker the Star

Bourgeois Kitten

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Zadrozny's first major release is an obvious, yet perfectly enjoyable, fusion of power-pop sensibilities and post-grunge/alternative styles. He's not a new Brian Wilson or anything, but he does sound like he's having fun with what he's doing and is able more than once to bring a giddy, anthem-like drive to the proceedings. There's even indirect flecks of Sonic Youth's free-form noise at points, suggesting that Blinker's closest contemporaries might be similar avant-guitar-gone-popsters Placebo. Cheap Trick might be a closer model, if one had to be chosen, though his singing is nowhere near Robin Zander's nuclear-strength sweetness, being rougher and held back a bit in the mix even at the times when he's in full yell. More than once this makes him sound like Kurt Cobain as a result -- check out "My Dog" when the music fully kicks in -- but thankfully, he never sounds like he's trying to imitate Nirvana out and out either. Turning up the amps actually suits him quite well all around; "Soldier III" is one of his best screamers, with a rushed pace and some sharp riff work. Quieter songs like "Undergrowth" and "Pixie Jane" help leaven the mix and show Zadrozny's ear for arrangements in general, trying out different effects on guitar or vocal harmonies as the mood seizes him. Despite having a core touring lineup, he works with a variety of musicians throughout Kitten, more than once just going ahead and recording everything on his own (on the lovely "The Pick" he even eschews drumming entirely for a rhythm box). Other general standouts on the record include the title track, an effective rocker that shifts between full-on energy and quieter but still dramatic chiming, and "Bicycle Freedom."

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