Baby Animals

Shaved and Dangerous

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Like a hard rock Annie Lennox, Baby Animals' lead singer, Suze DeMarchi, soars and swoops over the 11 tracks on Shaved and Dangerous. For the most part, the songwriting here is topnotch, with most of the songs showcasing fairly sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic ideas. Despite the proggy nature of some of the compositions, the mix is total pop, with DeMarchi way up front. However, this is a good thing, as she has a very strong, if sometimes overemotive, singing voice. Happy balances are struck on tracks such as "Baputa," which pairs a rolling, Hendrix-y guitar groove with almost Metallica-esque chorus riffs. Through it all, drummer Frank Celenza and bassist Eddie Parise groove incessantly, sounding rock-solid and confident even when accenting odd hits. Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt shows up either playing guitar or singing on three tracks, and his presence is appreciated, even though he can't save the banal and downright annoying Free cover "Be My Friend," the weakest point on the record. However, "Because I Can," co-written by Bettencourt and DeMarchi, sounds like a latter-day Led Zeppelin, with its syncopated riffs and multi-tiered arrangement. If there is one complaint about Shaved and Dangerous (besides the laughably bad "Be My Friend"), it is that guitarist Dave Leslie really needs to be more present in the mix. DeMarchi has a great rock voice, and the band is understandably eager to show it off, but she can only do so if her foundation is strong. Shaved and Dangerous might have been a commercial disappointment for the band, but there is a lot of good music here for discriminating fans of rock & roll.

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