The solo debut from former Crash 22 frontman Alex Dolan is as fascinatingly listenable as it is frustratingly unclassifiable. He and co-producer Huck Bennert pull out all the stops, loading most of the album's 12 tracks with various sound effects, vinyl scratches, and quick samples, few of which have much, if anything, to do with the songs they inhabit. Nevertheless, these tunes have undeniably engaging qualities and Dolan proves himself a remarkably gifted lyricist. He offers provocative metaphors and unique imagery, offering the listener handfuls of interpretive possibilities. Meanwhile, he sings in an odd vernacular all his own, forming a near-patois of elongated syllables and languid near-rap phrasings. Dolan's many talents are best evidenced on the album's highlight, "Smoking Gun," a poignant, honest cautionary tune about AIDS that neither sugarcoats the issue nor places blame. The smart rhyme scheme and beautiful chord progression on the refrains exhibit a conciseness and focus that one wishes was offered on the rest of the album. Instead, otherwise enjoyable songs such as "Pendulum" are loaded down with creepy funhouse clown laughs and other skittish effects that mute the melodies and messages. Owe Me One Cannoli presents Dolan as a spirited performer and intelligent songwriter, even if its Star Wars-punned title makes him out to be more of a pop prankster than he is. With dips into hip-hop, ska-lite, jam band, and outright rock territory, it's not a terribly focused debut. But for sophistication and individuality, it's one of the more inspired ones of the '00s.
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AllMusic Review by Joseph McCombs