Good News on a Bad Day

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The opening beat tells you everything you need to know about Good News on a Bad Day: you've heard this a thousand times before, but it's fun and groovy anyway, even though it's obvious Sasha manipulates you, and he knows you know. Basically, Good News is a typical pop/rock album, as unoriginal as the performer's name (in the Internet age, "Sasha" is only slightly better than "anonymous"), but it's too well done to be lambasted for a lack of originality. This is pretty old-fashioned music with an AOR tinge -- Sasha is more likely to use strings and piano than synths -- but the record is too slick to qualify for retro. The Beatles are an obvious influence (see "15 Minutes Older"), as are American rockers up to Matchbox Twenty and Tom Petty, but, in a true pop fashion, the record milks its influences for hooks and catchy bits without exploring them. Good News on a Bad Day sports a mildly surprising variety of moods and styles, from the minor-key ballad "Growing Egos" to the pre-Elvis "Lipstick on the Mirror" and the brooding "High & Low" that harks back to Sting's "Russians," but everything is neatly polished and fits into a larger context without sticking out: even the moodier tracks work as a counterbalance to the optimistic stuff dominating the record. Sasha's vocals, as expected, are put in the forefront, but though his singing is nothing special, he gets by on his sweet-but-serious guy charisma. Good News on a Bad Day, in the end, is the rock version of easy listening, but doing this sort of music is harder than it seems, and so Sasha is not to be underestimated. Sure, even the song titles sound like quotations, but there's a good chance you'll be humming the tunes after a couple of listens, provided you don't switch to somebody else's music by association.

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