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Bristol-based duo Starecase (consisting of Paul Crossman and Al Watson) have either built their first long-player across dance genres or on a somewhat unfocused foundation -- take your pick. Having been flush with high-profile remix efforts since their 1997 debut single, "First Floor Deadlock," Firstfloor serves up electro-pop ("Faith"), uninspired ambience ("Understand Me," "Aishiteru"), and vaguely hard, but lackluster trance ("Stuck in the Middle"). Vocals courtesy of Charlie Newlands and Jokate Benson do little to add any distinction to the material. Salvageable moments filter in toward the end of the album during "Bitter Little Pill" featuring Sean Cook (formerly of Spiritualized), and the spacy instrumental "The Bitter End." Having completed the record under a certain amount of label pressure, alongside concerns of being able to eventually reproduce these tracks live, may have placed an undue strain on Firstfloor. In the end the project seems half-baked, and wanting of more care and imagination.

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