June 22, 2006

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Frank Popp Ensemble, Touch and Go
Unique Records, 2006

There isn’t a single ingredient here that couldn’t find great success reeling in hardcore metrosexual nuevo-mods hungering for genre integrity in their Austin Powers fantasy lives. Popp may look like a clump-haired Smallville extra but his 60s Motown/Northern Sound-revivalist writing is a leather fit for the voice of Sam Leigh Brown, whether she’s playing a trashy assassin (“Business & Pleasure”), a working girl out to lose her bum boyfriend (the Ronettes-like “Leave Me Alone”) or a Eurotrash lounge bimbette babbling French into a cell phone (“Fonce Dans Le Coeur”). Aside from some woodenness in “All I Need,” the angles Brown contributes inspire comparisons to loftier things than what’s really deserved; say Peggy Lee carjacking the Supremes on Route 66. Despicable as all this might sound to indie curmudgeons, it gets a grip from the first backbeat, provoking involuntary undulations of the neck throughout. B-

— Eric Saeger


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