From the real-life Beavis and Butthead-like image singer/songwriter L.P. strikes in her anti-glamour front cover shot, juxtaposed with a convenience store and a stretch of mostly identical houses behind her, to the similarly plainspoken lyrics and her appealingly rough-edged vocal style (which alternates between a gruff talk-singing lower register and a Kate Bush-like high-register peal that suggests that her press release's claim of being an opera singer's daughter isn't a fib), Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol is something of a concept album. Don't let that stop you, however, because even more than that, it's a collection of nine powerfully sung and lyrically compelling songs that owe an unexpected but seemingly genuine debt to the best of late-'70s/early-'80s FM rock: elements of Pat Benatar, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Billy Squier, the Motels, and even a little Def Leppard course through radio-ready tunes like the ironically anthemic "Wasted" and the completely brilliant "The Dark Side," not to mention the dramatic power ballad title track. Refreshingly non-ironic and bracingly honest, Suburban Sprawl & Alcohol is a huge leap from 2001's less compelling Heart-Shaped Scar.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason