Brooke Fraser

Flags

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Like Lisa Mitchell and Missy Higgins, Brooke Fraser is far more popular down under than abroad, where her breezy pop/rock has yet to gain a serious foothold. Flags, her third record, may be the one that finally nets her an international audience. Inspired by Fraser’s move to Los Angeles, it’s a well-worn singer/songwriter album, with songs that take their cues from the Lilith Fair movement and L.A.’s burgeoning Hotel Café scene. Fraser knows how to craft a sturdy pop hook, and there are many of them here -- particularly during “Something in the Water,” which became her first Kiwi chart-topping hit in October 2010. Elsewhere, she stretches her boundaries by focusing on ambience and atmospheric textures, even evoking a young Fumbling Towards Ecstasy-era Sarah McLachlan during “Ice on Her Lashes.” There are some duds, too -- “Coachella,” named after the titular music festival, sounds like an empty bid for acceptance into California’s insider circle -- but Flags is too well-meaning to grate on anyone’s nerves, making it a pleasant listen even during its weaker moments.

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