House by the Sea

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Levinhurst is primarily the project of former Cure member Lol Tolhurst and his wife, vocalist Cynthia Levinson. Together, they've set out to re-envision the night-kissed atmospheres that were so thoroughly explored by the Cure some 20-odd years prior. Sounds good, right? Sadly, the music itself isn't anything to write home about. To be fair, 2007's House by the Sea is without a doubt better than the group's first album, Perfect Life. For one thing, it feels more confident. The muggy basslines and subtle hand drumming of "Never Going to Dream Again" are far more convincing than the clinical, stiff-jointed blippiness found on the first album. Levinson, too, sounds far more assured; she has a reedy, austere alto, and this austerity is generally a perfect match for House by the Sea's spooky, lumbering synth arrangements. But she lacks charisma, and there are times ("Beautiful Lie" comes to mind) when her voice stumbles along with Tolhurst's dense atmospheres with all the personality of a life-size cardboard cutout. Tolhurst mentioned in a press release that he approached these tracks like chapters in a book, and by all accounts that approach paid off -- House by the Sea is graced with a continuity and vision that surpasses its predecessor. Unfortunately, there's a fine line between continuity and humdrum homogeneity, and House by the Sea bumbles into the realm of sleep-inducing monotony by the time the fifth track rolls around. Tolhurst is an excellent musician, but he's simply not at his best here.

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