Signalmen

Falsetto Teeth

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The Signalmen's self-titled debut album was fine, slightly artsy guitar rock that sounded more than a little bit like Television in spots. Okay, it sounded a lot like Television, thanks to the dual guitar interplay of Steve Burton and Michael Brosco and Burton's Tom Verlaine-style strangled yelp of a voice. However, the Champaign-Urbana-based quartet goes a lot further toward establishing its own identity on that album's follow-up, 2001's punningly titled Falsetto Teeth. The key seems to be that, unlike on the first album, Burton and second singer/guitarist Mike Brosco co-wrote this entire album together instead of dividing songwriting responsibility down the middle. The results do a much better job of integrating the pair's somewhat divergent sensibilities. Brosco's straightforward pop leanings are skewed pleasantly by Burton's taste for the unique, and Burton's arty inaccessibility is hemmed in by Brosco's more grounded focus. Not only are the songs stronger this time around, but the less gimmicky production suits them better. The new wave clich├ęs that occasionally damaged the first album are under control. Todd Fletcher of June and the Exit Wounds adds keyboards to several tracks, and his Rundgren-esque style smooths a lot of the jagged edges. Falsetto Teeth goes a long way toward establishing the Signalmen's own artistic identity.

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