Shudder to Think's last two albums were gorgeous catchalls of diagonal melodies and free-form genre exploration, the sound of an indie band discovering new directions in late night rock and modern day soul. After Shudder's final gasp, Craig Wedren turned officially toward music for film and television. But all of those avenues lead to Lapland, his first real solo album. Some of these songs show off Wedren's famously silky falsetto, now wrapped into intimate tunes like "Wanna Drive?" or "Rain Diamonds," all about private conversations between lovers or drawn blinds and making out in the middle of the day. At other times, like on "Night is Over," the arrangements are subtly insistent and urbane, like music written for the closing credits of an indie film. (Shudder to Think's more jagged melodic turns don't really exist, though there's always the sense they might resurface.) "Do You Harm" and "Born Curious" are two of Lapland's strongest. They're crystalline shards of perfect adult pop, catchy and accessible but more interesting musically than a thousand Rob Thomas songs. Elsewhere the breakup meditation "Fifteen Minutes Late" halts between downcast indie verses and lines that soar with soul -- great lyric alert: "In my new apartment/In the broke-up part of town" -- and "One Man's Heart" is an epic and appropriately-named closing flourish. Lapland has so many wonderful touches, moments that recall Wedren's past work but only as part of this whole new thing. He deploys various backup singers to great effect, dabbles with keyboards, flute and string effects (but never overdoes it), and generally works Shudder to Think's more melodic side into a set of crafty, inviting pop that's also musically curious and quite personal. That's a precarious spot to balance an album, and because of that it seems like Wedren occasionally holds back. Maybe he doesn't fill out the songs out as much as he would've liked, in order to keep them inviting. But if anything that feeling keeps them closer to his heart, which is where Lapland begins and ends, anyway.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus