Various Artists

Songs for the Jet Set 2000, Vol. 3

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It requires someone hopelessly jaded, rigidly sanctimonious, or irredeemably self-righteous (i.e. a music critic) to recoil in revulsion at the sort of trippy, delectable pop hors d'oeuvres served up in every conceivable kaleidoscopic color on Songs for the Jet Set 2000, the third installment in the Jetset Records series. The collection is not a label compilation, however, but instead a group of bands and artists from the U.K. doing cinema pop, a subgenre of their own invention that takes its inspiration from the movie soundtracks of the '60s, a hallucinogenic time when the mise en scène seemed itself surreally cinematic. The album is not so much packed with songs as it is with atmospheric little nuggets filled with good vibes and swanky, beau monde ambience, sugarcoated choruses, lovably twee melodies, and minor-key psychedelia. Be it the phantasmagoric bossa nova of Milky, the ersatz Hollywood gloss of Wallpaper, Loveletter's hip-shaking Indian raga, or the sound of choirboys-next-door Tomorrow's World, all of the music on the album is ingratiating, gloriously chewy sustenance -- for the feet if not necessarily for the brain. It is a perfect guide into the groovy world of mod suits and motorbikes, leather and light shows, go-go boots, hippie chicks, and larger-than-life pop stars. However, lest it be dismissed as a backward-looking genre exercise, Songs for the Jet Set 2000 actually reconstructs the pop that was meant to be the soundtrack of a promised future which never transpired; so technically, it is tethered to no particular era --"technically" being the optimum word, of course. The music partly asks a listener to reject the previous three decades of pre-millennial existence -- particularly the music -- and return to the far more swirling '60s, but it would be a mistake to reject the collection as hopelessly retro. The ditties collected here inject just as much heart-exploding excitement and carbonated energy into a listener's bloodstream as did anything from the '60s; the songs dream up a mood all their own. The artists re-establish an optimism that has nearly been ridiculed out of existence, and they re-imagine an age when hope seemed to be a birthright rather than a quaint character flaw. "Trip," after all, has always been just a hop -- to say nothing of a skip or a jump -- from "tripe." Songs for the Jet Set 2000 expertly lands on the side of the former. It makes a winning case for the merits of kaleidoscopic pop, and illustrates why it may have intermittently gone out of style but should never go out of favor -- and why it will never be irrelevant. It is not only a movie worth seeing but also one worthy of living.

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