Stegosaurus Rex

The Dino Soars

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The double-album-length debut by the Bay Area's Stegosaurus Rex is a sprawling wander through the last quarter-century of electronic pop music. Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Max Chen doesn't pledge allegiance to any particular subgenre, so these 18 songs skip merrily between Caribou-style indie pop ("Green"), mellow downtempo instrumentals (the soulful, slinky "East Bay Kickback"), hyper dancefloor fillers ("Polar"), hip-hop ("Sleep All Day"), experimental atmospheric soundscapes ("Blindness"), standard-issue electro-pop ("Frozen Promises"), and any other idea that comes to mind. In lesser hands, this would come off as merely unfocused, and it's certainly true that many A&R representatives would have demanded this lengthy CD be broken up into several different EPs, perhaps under different project names for ease of niche marketing. But even aside from the bravery of refusing to limit himself to one particular musical persona, Chen reveals himself to be a talented producer and a fairly solid songwriter with a particular knack for cool, mellow grooves and low-key, jazz-tinged melodies. The Dino Soars is perhaps best heard in bits and pieces (or on shuffle play), but it's a fun listen that promises better things yet to come.

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