Sonic Reducer

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There just isn’t enough meat on the bones of this debut LP, though singer-songwriter Frisbee (first name: Aaron) has his heart in the right place. Nothing seems disingenuous about the piano, guitar and analog synthesizer-based love songs. The lyrics have an understated charm and don’t come across as preachy or uppity. But there’s a tendency to find a mini-groove and just sit there for what feels like days. The instrumentation doesn’t carry enough oomph, and when it’s just Frisbee and the faint sound of piano keys, the texture is hollow and small. Frisbee speaks like an adult, but his songs lack maturity. (SM)

Mates of State Re-Arrange Us (Barsuk)

With its patent vocal harmonies intact after more than a decade together, Mates of State still has some tricks up its four sleeves. The heavily touring pop duo is back with 35 minutes of organs and drums that are expanded upon with synthesizer sounds. Some songs, particularly "The Re-Arranger" and "Jigsaw," harbor annoying lyrics; but as a whole, the album is interesting, well-produced and subtle. The final three tracks have emerged as my personal favorites. (JCC)

N.E.R.D. Seeing Sounds (Interscope)

It made sense to say N.E.R.D. was ahead of its time six years ago when its debut album, In Search Of, came out. But Seeing Sounds is right on the money with present pop-culture’s flood of bright and trendy fashions. Pharrell is the poster-boy of this shiny new wave of hip-hop, backed by other populars like Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. The single “Everyone Nose” is a much-needed club track with a funky 2 Live Crew vibe. Seeing Sounds aims straight for the soundtrack to your next house party. (JH)

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