New Sacred Cow

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Even if you don't like Fred Durst's taste in music, you've gotta give the man credit: as an A&R man/label owner, the guy zigs just when you expect him to zag. Granted, his label's debut release, the ultra-experimental rock of Bigdumbface, made perfect sense, seeing as how it featured his Limp Bizkit bandmate Wes Borland. And maybe you could write off the second Flawless album, Puddle of Mudd, as just another attempt to cash in on the nu-metal craze. But how do you explain this curiously oddball release? Produced by Chase Chad, one half of the hit-making rap production team the Neptunes, New Sacred Cow is a bizarre mixture of new wave, synth pop, and hip-hop. Songs like "Freetime" sound strangely like a Duran Duran for the 21st century, with its dreamy harmonized vocals and gurgling synths, while "Man Fading" sounds like a cut from George Michael's Faith as produced by Timbaland. Other tracks, like "Vexed and Glorious," don't have quite the same kitschy retro-futuristic appeal, just narrowly avoiding a Backstreet Boys-like sense of cheeziness thanks to a sharp, off-kilter beat. This is the sort of maddeningly infectious pop album that worms its way into your subconscious.

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