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The Austin, TX, foursome Strangelight's debut, Lux, came off as a proud, overwrought anomaly in lean mean 2002. Recalling the drug lush of the Verve and crushed velvet maudlin of Pulp, the 11 songs on this album could easily have been made at the height of the shoegazer movement. The guitars are big, swooping, and brazen from start to finish, while singer Raman goes from Layne Staley to Mark Hollis' cheese-tinged Talk Talk phrasing, depending on the aggression level of the track. The relative sonic maturity of this debut is undercut by truly banal, needlessly cynical lyrics addressed to a mysterious "you" who seems to take the blame for everyone's problems in pop music. On ballads like "Fiction," Strangelight can get it almost right -- the rising smoke guitars, reverby organ, and sinewy vocals all coming together for a perfect moment. Radiohead advised "slow down" on the final track of OK Computer; since the bandmembers listened to everything about that album, they should have listened to Yorke's advice too.

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