54 Seconds Reviewed

54 Seconds Reviewed

54 Seconds

Postcards From California(BMG/Rock Ridge)

Spencer Gibb's plaintive burr of a singing voice, tantalizing in its warm, wanting detachment, wafts akin to English crooners like James Blunt or Tom McRae, a Bowery version of Coldplay's Chris Martin (with a hint of Dave Matthews' rasp). Paired with a delicious horn arrangement right off of Abbey Road ("Ben's Letter"), its charms double, returns multiplying on the insistent piano clamp of "How I Roll (Summer Version)." The strumming touch of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," sashaying "Dirty Little Secret," comes up another winner. The bass bomp moving "I Wish I Was a Girl" could use more Rachel Loy, though Stewart Cochran's programming finds perfect synergy in Gibb's six-string sparkler. Loy's wordless call on "My Crazy Life" is one of the LP's skylights. Her harmonies should be duets. A sharper mix befits "Breathing," which never pulls sharp focus. The space age Esquivelisms of "Pocket Full of Numbers" come closer but suffer a similar fate. Cochran's "New World" subway tones outclass the song's chorus, which falls flat, a problem on 54 Seconds' third album, otherwise aglow with ideas and arrangements. Piano closer "Still Behind Me," cello rising to meet Loy and the rhythm section, should stay naked, the best kind of Postcard to get anyway.

***

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