The Contrast

Mystery No. 1

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The debut by the British guitar pop group the Contrast sounds at times like it came out about a decade and a half too late. David Reid's jangly tunes and agreeably artless vocals recall the glory days of Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, Prefab Sprout, and the earliest days of Creation Records, overlaid with an obvious debt to the artier side of late-'70s punk. (Reid has obviously listened to Television's Marquee Moon many many times; "Short Term Memory" in particular betrays a heavy Tom Verlaine influence.) This is in no way a bad thing but, unfortunately, most of the songs on Mystery No. 1 don't do much more than remind the listener of the superior bands the Contrast is reminiscent of. The main exceptions are the title track, which works up a good post-punk head of steam and features some cool psychedelic guitar parts, and the opening "Perfect Disguise," which has the album's most memorable chorus. The rest of the album is by no means bad, but it's kind of undistinguished and derivative.

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