Mitchell Froom

Dopamine

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In a way, it's a little odd that famed producer Mitchell Froom found it necessary to record a solo album, since he stamps his own signature on every album he makes. The artists he produces often sound like guests on their own records, as their voices get buried beneath his murky, self-aborbed production. On Dopamine, he at least bills David Hidalgo, Suzanne Vega, M. Doughty, Lisa Germano, Mark Eitzel, Ron Sexsmith and Sheryl Crow (among many others) as guest artists, leaving no doubt that these vocalists are merely a front for his production. And Dopamine will sound recognizable to anyone familiar with Froom's work -- it's the standard junkyard percussion, clattering keyboards and self-conscious lo-fi effects, all taken to ludicrous extremes. Few of the songs are fully formed; they're merely vehicles for production experiments. Even when there are full-fledged songs, as on the Sexsmith-sung "Overcast," Froom screws with the production so much that it barely comes out as listenable. It's possible that this self-satisfied cacophony is exactly what Froom fans want to hear, but this lacks the focus of the semi-experimental Latin Playboys or the songwriting skills that made his productions for Elvis Costello, Crowded House and Richard Thompson listenable, even though all the singers collaborated on their work. Consequently, Dopamine sounds like little more than a mess.

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