MJ Hibbett & the Validators

Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez

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Over the course of his and his band's many releases, MJ Hibbett has shown his work to occupy something between a memoir and a column -- or a blog -- of general observations, a product of his own upbringing, musical and otherwise, in a different time. It's these kinds of tensions and observations that make Hibbett's work more than just "indie pop" as such -- if anything, it puts him in line with some of the best hip-hop MCs out there -- and Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez continues the string of his winners. Reprising the merry kick of the "Do the Indie Kid" single with a slightly different "music of the future" section, the album otherwise finds Hibbett and the Validators touching on everything from computer desk guys finding love to the travails of having to play shows too late at night, all while finding new ways to gently twist their catchy understated rock chug. "Do More, Eat Less" relies on strings and a merry rhythm shuffle on the verses and squelchy horns on the break even as Hibbett dispenses dietary advice from a knowing position, while "We Can Start Having Fun" might be one of the few rock epics about just going for it worth its salt (and the band lives up to it with massed vocals, a triumphant arrangement, and a slow-burn coda). Perhaps one of the most poignant moments comes with "Red Black Gold," with Hibbett reflecting on the luck of a generation of latter-day Smiths fans not knowing just what "the Bomb" that Morrissey sang of in "Ask" was. It's a perfect summary of noting how time and place shape a person and perceptions -- and in keeping with his work, it's a catchy-as-hell song.

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