CD Reviews


Daft Punk TRON: Legacy (Walt Disney)

For a movie that looks as gorgeously deranged as TRON: Legacy, you’d think the film’s producers would have recruited a band with an edge to create the soundtrack. Instead, we get French rave duo Daft Punk, pedestrian housers whose heyday was in the late ’90s. Sure, they do an admirable job of striving to match the digital sturm and drang of a story about being trapped in a psychopathic videogame, but it’s all just so much background music, and it falls short. There are no moments of transcendence or danger, just hypnotic, go-nowhere dance rhythms. The movie’s main theme, best expressed in the eponymous end titles, is driving enough, but it lacks depth or texture or frightening contours. “Derezzed,” the best track is fine, but bloodless. A compilation of new material by more visceral electronic artists (M83, Crystal Castles, Ratatat) would’ve worked better. But since when has Disney taken risks? ★☆☆☆☆


Josh Groban Illuminations (Reprise)

Why’s it whenever mainstream artists feel the need to prove they can do more than shift units they hire megaproducer Rick Rubin? I can’t blame ’em, given his success. Rubin made his name recording dirty rap and satanic metal, then went on to cement Johnny Cash’s late-period career. More recently, he resuscitated Neil Diamond. Groban’s career needs no such help, but it screams out for more serious critical attention. Rubin provides it by emphasizing Groban the songwriter (yikes!), even if Semisonic’s Dan Wilson lends some help. The stately grand-piano grandeur of “Hidden Away” fooled me into thinking a pro tunesmith had composed it, the acoustic guitars being the only clue that something’s amiss—but in a good way. When things get symphonic (“Você Existe Em Mim”), they’re blended into a world-music mix that’s satisfying. Lyrics aren’t half-bad, either! All you indie-rockers, give Groban a chance. ★★★☆☆


Duffy Endlessly (Mercury)

Another British white chick (see Amy Winehouse, Adele) with a penchant for singing soul music, Welsh-born Duffy never stood out for me except for her multiplatinum status and commercial potential given her youth. That has changed. Her new album, co-produced and co-written by ’70s hitmaker Albert Hammond Sr. (father of The Strokes’ rhythm guitarist), boasts old-school attention to craft, dynamics and arrangements. “Well, Well, Well” pops with fat, greasy horns and reverb-drenched guitar whiplash, while the dazzlingly smooth and classic ballad of the title track is so exquisite you’ll spin it as often as its namesake suggests. The galloping bass guitar of “My Boy” is pure, on-the-cusp-disco Motown. The torch song-meets-doo-wop bliss of “Too Hurt to Dance” is another stunner. If you enjoy classy music made by a classy lady, buy this. ★★★★☆

Suggested Next Read

Moonlight Mile pleases eager fans

Book Jacket

Moonlight Mile pleases eager fans

By M. Scott Krause

Mystery readers have an extra reason to be thankful this November. Dennis Lehane is back with a new novel, Moonlight Mile (William Morrow & Co., $27), and he’s resurrected his most popular recurring characters for the occasion.