Mark Mallman

The Red Bedroom

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Full of brazen piano buildups and full-vibrato confessionals, The Red Bedroom is like a great lost breakup album of David Bowie and Elton John, where the two tortured souls channel frustrations into the third person. As a concept album, then, it works. Ten tracks celebrate backroom lovin' in the hot Milwaukee sun with a patina of mid-'70s dust and grease on every sound surface. Between the sensational bombast of "Humankind" and the exposed ballad foppery of "Baby Takes It Slow" is the sense that Mallman could've been a lost Bowie protégé -- using all the stops of Mott the Hoople with less overt blues and more soft rock schmaltz. Featuring members of the Promise Ring, the Replacements, 12 Rods, and Fog, the album allows Mallman to keep his concept artist's abstractions while creating an un-ironically enjoyable art pop treasure in the meantime.

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