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The Music Lovers: Masculine, Feminine

The Music Lovers: Masculine, Feminine

Label:Le Grand Magistery
Release Date:2009

By Bret McCabe | Posted 1/28/2009

Shameless nostalgia for bygone eras is how musicians pinch out vacuous turds--viz., Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, who are impossibly more boring and white than Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Thoughtful retro pop, though, is nimble and fun--at least in the hands of San Francisco's the Music Lovers. Anchored by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Matthew Edwards--an expatriate from Birmingham, England, possessing the viscous croon of a Brummie lad--the Music Lovers take selected pages from pop, soul, and rock from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s to weave together Masculine, Feminine, a 12-song tapestry that entertains despite the familiarity.

Credit Edwards' lyrics for holding the brain while the music connects with the body. Masculine grins and sneers its way through desperate living, love gone so wrong it's right, late nights, and chronic mistakes. In the Go-Betweens-y "Saturday," an upbeat number about hitting bottom, Edwards jubilantly offers, "Ten miles just south of rehab and I'm one drink shy of your heart/ now I've got nothing to live for and that's a really good place to start." "L'Amor Parodie" is outright-drunk '60s Europop, with a Champagne fizzy bass line and Edwards languidly doing his best Serge Gainsbourg. And nothing but love for the permafrost ballad "Bobby Gentry," named, yes, for the "Ode to Billie Joe" country artist who absolutely rocked a long-hair fetishist's dream mane.

"A Word From Your Fashion Editor" is the real keeper, though. The band fuses a Four Tops bass pulse with an Elvis Costello punchy pub-rock groove to create a mini mod anthem about knowing how to dress the part. Sure, the Music Lovers may merely prove they know who to steal from with Masculine, Feminine, but, damn, what a polished lift.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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