Davíd Garza

This Euphoria

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David Garza made his major label debut in a big, brilliant way -- compared to the almost genteel efforts on earlier albums like Eyes Wide Open, This Euphoria flat-out rocks. Call it a natural progression, call it what happens when there's big bucks to work with, but Garza came up with one of the best rock albums of the second half of the '90s. Working with a variety of side musicians and recording at various spots in Texas and elsewhere, Garza comes on like the strutting, sly love child of Marc Bolan, Robert Plant, and Freddie Mercury, not to mention their respective bands. Unlike, say, the tedious necrophilia of Lenny Kravitz or the Black Crowes, though, Garza wins out on both singing ability and his ear for powerful, catchy material -- and he just sounds a little more engaging and much less full of himself. The opening track, "Kinder," almost misrepresents the album -- the bold, John Bonham-esque beat and descending fuzz guitar chords are just fantastic, but there's much more happening on This Euphoria. On the bold, straightforward tip, "Slave" is the absolute winner, something that would have been one of the best T. Rex songs ever if that group had done it; it's catchy, strong, and romantic, with a perfect balance of feedback and Garza's singing strength. Subtler approaches also appear throughout, as with the string arrangements on "Baptiste" or the nutty drum machine into full drum punch of "Discoball World." The title track is an understated piece of freaky soul psychedelia, with Garza's electric guitar laying down weird parts in the background behind both shuffling and stronger funk beats. Quieter numbers, meanwhile, leaven the impact with no less passion than the louder songs ("Lost," the beautiful "I Know," and "Float Away" are particular winners), and compared to his polite pop past, Garza and company sound more relaxed, free, and able to try things out.

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