New Universe

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As arguably the most formidable husband and wife team on the scene, Wilshire flexes potent pop chops throughout New Universe. Their songs are succinct; they hit hard, make their point, and get out fast. They keep their production values high; the transitions from hushed verses to shimmering eruptions of electric guitar on the choruses on "Turn It Around" convey all the angst that this genre demands. Vocally, they deliver brio duets, with Lori Wilshire displaying real expressive power, if a somewhat limited range, in her solo spots. In its sprawling sonic palette, New Universe draws from an '80s sensibility; this carries through to Lori's phrasing, which at times echoes elements of Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper with none of the diva affectations of the Mariah Carey school. Yet their conviction is strong and their craftsmanship at every level is imposing, to the extent that even big-gesture outro key changes ("Without You" and "I Know What You Did"), big-budget string charts ("In Your Arms" and "Tonight"), and Meat Loaf-level dynamics (on practically every cut) feel here like something new.

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