February 16, 2006

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Darren, Anything is Possible
Shark Meat Records, 2006

Technopop balladry pickled in ’80s formaldehyde with occasional bleats of sequencer. The first two George Michael-esque weepers — “The Limit” and “You Were Loved” — run the risk of getting drowned out by peals of laughter from mainstreamers unaware of the bizarre electro tinkering taking place not only here but in myriad other underground dungeons, notably at the Warp Records stable. Song-wise, worst case would be that this transplanted Londoner zapped here in a time machine and actually believes that happy-pants crooning a la Kool and the Gang (“Out of the Rain”) still ropes in the babes, and the painfully innocent keyboard lines obviously partook of the same Kool Aid. Listeners willing to tough it out, however, will eventually encounter “Spread the Love,” a robo-boy-band shtick that’s the perfectly logical mutant offspring of the neo/retro influences at work. Beyond that, the melodies meet Billboard specs, and the programming is up for a steel cage match with anyone. B-
— Eric Saegera