Uphill Racer

No Need to Laugh

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Uphill Racer (a one-man act) makes an enjoyable enough debut with No Need to Laugh, showing that if nothing else the influence of aspiring, sticky-sweet sentiment in the wake of albums like the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin remains strong in a new decade (and century, for that matter). Overdubbed, often high-pitched, but still slightly obscure harmonies in a Thom Yorke vein are present; there are lots of overdubs of sparkling keyboards and sampling glaze; drums tend to shuffle or slightly pulse along, calling to mind some of the Beta Band's work -- in sum, it's all very nice, but the flip side is that it's also not very remarkable. No songs step forward uniquely as being definite highlights, and while there's no question Uphill Racer's work is competent and he's a fine self-arranger, there's not much more to note otherwise. Once or twice surprising moments do stand out -- for instance, the synth strings opening "Tangerine" oddly (or perhaps not so oddly) sound a bit like the work Anne Dudley did for Wham!'s "Careless Whisper." But otherwise, this is genially pleasant stuff, background music if you want it to be, that is ultimately just sort of there.

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