Lucky Strike

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Combining rock with electronica is no longer a new or controversial idea, so it really shouldn't come as a big surprise when someone does it well. But Richard Morel's third album manages somehow to sound like something brand new, despite the fact that all of its elements are familiar and his songwriting, while artful enough, is far from groundbreaking. That's not to say that every song succeeds completely, but just when your attention starts to wander (as it likely will about halfway through "Cheerful," the album's lead track, or the long and largely instrumental house anthem "Heaven 65"), something grabs you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to listen. Maybe it's the dark, pulsing ambience and brooding vocals on "Making Sense" or the blissfully popwise "This Song Is Broken," or maybe it's something like "I'll Do What I Can Not to Touch You, Pt. 1," which sounds a bit like an outtake from a middle-period Cure album. (That song returns later in a completely superfluous trance remix.) By no means is this a perfect album, but it's got plenty to offer and is at least intellectually stimulating when it's not utterly gripping.

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