The Brett Rosenberg Problem

Problematic

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Perhaps it's inevitable that Boston wunderkind Brett Rosenberg's third album in as many years would feel a bit like "another Brett Rosenberg record," and it does. But in reality Problematic is Rosenberg's most adventurous album yet as he's pulling in more stylistic directions than previously, essentially "popping up" the pop tracks, "rocking up" the rock tracks, and even throwing in some bluesy guitar licks for good measure. So while Problematic occupies the same stylistic territory as the first two records, it's much more varied. This is nowhere more evident than on the killer opening quartet of tunes. "Everybody's Seeing My Baby" affectionately apes oldies radio -- particularly earnest early-to-mid-'60s pop -- before he charges into the stomping, under-two-minute "Saved by the Bell," a thrashy, Replacements-esque rocker that's both the hardest-hitting and catchiest thing Rosenberg has ever done. But as if those two songs don't display enough range -- and they display plenty enough to fill an entire disc by most standards -- Rosenberg launches into the gorgeous acoustic pop of "Thinking of You" and then the bluesy "I Lied," which sounds as if it's pitched halfway between the Kinks' "20th Century Man" and Matthew Sweet's mid-'90s work. It all makes Problematic yet another criminally overlooked effort from one of the most talented and most prolific young songwriters of the early 21st century, and stands as further proof that Rosenberg is at least destined for artistic greatness if not commercial success.

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