Meg Hentges

Brompton's Cocktail

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Meg Hentges doesn't waste much time here letting you know which side of the sexual divide she's filing dispatches from. The first verse on this album is the striking "in every school in the Midwest/all the queers are at the bottom/just above the poor and pregnant/just below the Future Farmers," and elsewhere, with occasional help from bassist, poet, and co-lyricist Jude O'Nym, she outlines struggles to reconcile lesbianism with religion and family. But while the lyrics are intelligent and sometimes powerful, it's the music on Brompton's Cocktail that really demands attention. Expertly produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, the disc sets Hentges' guitar-based songs and no-nonsense, Lou Reedy vocals into backings that veer from crunchy, Cars-style new wave candy ("This Kind of Love," "Heaven Sent") to shiny folk-pop ("Silver Shine") to cool adult R&B ("Not a Minute Too Soon"), each coated with an irresistible pop sheen that could warm the hearts of all but the most tone-deaf Religious Righters. Even when Hentges simply muscles up and turns her former folkie stylings into sledgehammer riff-rockers, as she does on tracks like "Tattoo Urge" and "Dirt," the results are pretty impressive. The tongue-in-cheek birthday greeting to author Ayn Rand is a bit pretentious, but it's the only real misstep of a remarkable -- and remarkably catchy -- effort.

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