Phil Angotti

Juliette Foster

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Power pop veteran Phil Angotti (the Idea) has pulled off a neat trick with Juliette Foster. By taking what is essentially a plate of leftovers -- displaced solo songs -- and making them into a full-course meal, he's pieced together a story of lost love and storyboarded it into a faux-conceptual package complete with liner notes and a cover that apes the Zombies-heavy 1965 soundtrack for Otto Preminger's Bunny Lake Is Missing, and damn if isn't an effective ruse. The sparse arrangements allow Angotti's sweet and raspy tenor to dictate his affectations with an urgency that dutifully recreates both the angst and the bliss of that first smack of puppy love. The opening track -- and album namesake -- is the obvious highlight. With its rousing melody, fat cellos, and mantra of "I though I lost her/Julliette Foster," it's a nearly perfect pop song, and placing it at the beginning helps to provide a frame of reference for some of the record's weaker moments -- including a few unnecessary instrumentals. Like Jonathan Richman, Angotti is an unabashed romantic, and that he chose to stay acoustic helps these tunes immensely -- "No Moon Tonight" is the best song that Nick Drake never wrote and "Trying to Find Out About Something" is the kind of track most sunshine pop bands spend years trying to concoct. Juliette Foster requires a sunny day, a good shot of nostalgia, and a little bit of patience. It's that little gem that gets continuously stepped over at the beach. It's not shiny or ornate, but it glows in the right pair of hands.

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