Einstein's Sister

Learning Curves

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For all of the virtues of Einstein's Sister and Oceanus, they were solid albums for a local or regional act, but lacked a certain quality to endear Einstein's Sister to audiences outside the Midwest. Learning Curves changed all that. After the bungled release of Oceanus, in which the band had creative differences with their producer and would up losing a bassist, they took a D.I.Y. approach to Learning Curves, self-producing the album to make sure it came out right. It was also recorded with a stable lineup, and these changes made all the difference. Here, Einstein's Sister take the best of new wave-era British pop and update it for late-'90s American power pop audience to stunning results. Nothing here is over or underdone: the production gets everything just right, and there's a great variety of tunes, from rockers to country to ballads to pure pop. Douglas Tucker's vocals, in particular, sound like a perfect synthesis of Elvis Costello and Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook. It's true that at times Einstein's Sister seem a little too much like a jumble of influences -- like someone put XTC, Squeeze, and Elvis Costello on random play -- but the typical fan probably owns most of the albums from those acts and wants more of the same with a slightly different bent. Learning Curves was originally intended to be the final Einstein's Sister album, but it unexpectedly became a smash hit within the power pop community, showing up in many year-end Top Ten lists. Several International Pop Overthrow appearances followed, and later many of their songs (particularly the charging opener "Jealous Time") appeared on MTV and VH1 shows.

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