Buddahead

Crossing the Invisible Line

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Crossing the Invisible Line is a tasteful yet very nearly sterile set of pop tunes showcasing Buddahead's well-appointed falsetto, the one that has the ability to soar like a warm-blooded Thom Yorke. In other words, Budda (real name: Raman Kia) sounds a lot like Chris Martin. Tracks like "Invisible," with its impressively unshowy harmonica work from John Popper, or the lilting acousta-pop number "Chains" replace Coldplay's more baroque elements with a noncommittal, radio-ready dynamic. Buddahead's lyrics take a similar tack, opting for palpable yet universally applicable thoughts and emotions -- a survey notes overuse of the phrase "I [verb] you" ("love," "need," etc.) and its assorted constructions. "I think that with you I made a mistake," he sings in "Holding Me Back." The song seems to have designs on rocking spitefully but can't quite muster the energy. Buddahead's frustration ("I throw it all to you/You give it all away") does surface atop "Take It All Away"'s lightly processed percussion and swirling strings, but he soon loses his way amid guitar solo cul-de-sacs and dead-end bridges. That falsetto of his is great and capable of real feeling. But Buddahead and his collaborators (producer Don Gilmore and a clutch of studio musicians) rarely inject personality into Invisible Line, relying instead on technically efficient musicianship polished with top-shelf production. The result often suggests Enrique Iglesias' sappier moments (try the big closer, "Outside"), instead of supporting Budda's potentially impressive vocal chords with something more substantive. The acoustic introduction to "Turn Away" is a nice touch, and "When I Fall"'s rich verses suggest the melancholy of Erasure, even if its chorus sounds stolen from a mid-'90s Tonic single. But overall, Buddahead's debut is disappointingly regenerative, and too timid.

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