Michael Penn

MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident

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When Michael Penn released MP4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident, the strict playlist of adult-alternative radio made it pretty clear that it'd be difficult for him to have a hit, so Penn doesn't even try - he just creates a record for himself and his cult. Brendan O'Brien, the producer of Resigned, mans the boards on the opening cut "Lucky One.." It's not just the only song on MP4 not produced by Penn, it's the only song that sounds like a blatant attempt at a radio-ready single. That it succeeds gloriously -- it's the first sure-fire follow-up to "No Myth" -- speaks of Penn's prodigious abilities as a craftsman. The rest of the album is equally well crafted, but more subtle in construction and production, without hooks that leap out of the speaker. They're there, but they're delivered subtly, letting each song slowly work its way into a listener's memory. Penn knows that whoever puts on MP4 is willing to delve deeply into the record, willing to spend time with it to find its rewards. It's to his considerable credit that he delivers. MP4 doesn't have a knockout punch, but it is an expert pop album -- tightly sequenced and written, filled with small gems. It's the kind of album that's ideal for cult audiences, since it's familiar yet doesn't stand still (the production takes some risks, albeit minor ones). It may not win Michael Penn any new fans, but it'll certainly satisfy the devoted.

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