Morten Abel

Here We Go Then, You and I

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Morten Abel's second solo album opens with a big chunky slab of classic-sounding pop/rock, "Hard to Stay Awake," with huge, hummable hooks in the vein of Travis or Oasis. It closes, in fine adult alternative fashion, with the tastefully jaunty folk-pop of "The Whistler" and a couple of sweet, acoustic ballads, including the sparse and lovely "Dad's Girl", which addresses the potentially melodramatic subject of incest with impressive delicacy. In other words, good stuff, and more or less what you might expect to hear from a veteran rocker approaching his twentieth year in the industry. Just about everything in between those bookends, however, subverts those expectations, as Here We Go Then, You and I turns out to be, effectively, a dance-pop album. To be sure, it's dance-pop approached from the perspective of rock singer/songwriter, but these grooves are a few notches above the tepid percussion loops that were de rigeur for songwriter albums around the turn of the millennium, even if they're not entirely fresh or snappy. "Don't Forget to Dance," "The Man With No Shadow" (whose silly chorus rhymes "Batman," "fat man" and "Pac-Man") and "Let the Good Times Roll" wallow in shuffling Madchester-style beats, while the elegantly moody "Be My Lover" rides a midtempo breakbeat; best of all is the single "Tulipz," mixed by veteran dance producer Pascal Gabriel, which is full-on funky house thick with wah-wah guitar. None of this would much matter if Abel didn't have such a winning way with a hook, but quite a few of these tunes boast distinctly catchy, if unassuming, choruses, although another handful do fall flat. Still, this an unusually satisfying marriage of straight-ahead songcraft and electronic beats; an album with readily apparent mainstream appeal that never feels off-puttingly slick.

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