Louie Austen

Last Man Crooning/Electrotaining You!

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One of Louie Austen's best qualities is his unashamed embrace of pop straight-up -- it's always been a hallmark of his work, but perhaps one of the best things about Last Man Crooning/Electrotaining You! lies in its willingness to embrace both the straightforward pop hit and the reworking of it for other purposes. Last Man Crooning, the core album as such, finds him again in "crooning smoothie for a neo-disco crowd" mood, as slick as Jamiroquai but more Jack Jones meets Jimi Tenor than anything else. From the opening splash of "Hold On," he is in easygoing cruise control mode throughout, which can be a bit overwhelming as the album progresses if only because so much of it is of a piece. Exceptions certainly emerge: "Bondi Beach" is almost a bit of jungle meets bossa nova in its staccato smoothness -- making Austen's string-swept invocation of meeting people on the Australian shore all that more of a lovely fantasia. "My Last Song," which rather appropriately concludes the album, winds down the near constant high-energy swirl for a classic "show business ain't all glamour but the show must go on" groove -- Marc Almond could cover it easily. Electrotaining You!, the companion disc, provides the greater variety that the main album can lack; given it's a collection of remixes that may seem obvious enough, but it almost provides the necessary punch to elevate Austen's performances into broader spectra. Matzak's remix of "Wild Thing" is absolutely sharp, while "Paris" [Acid Washed Rmx] aims for a good dark disco throb and "Make Your Move" [Rodion Frisco Disco Rmx] is a classic celebration of late-'70s Moroder at many points. Credit as well to the heavenly trance synth break on Christopher Just's remix of "I Wander," a perfect and perfectly obvious moment.

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