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Anton Barbeau - 17th Century Fuzzbox Blues (Frigidisk)

Maybe all's fair in love and war, but in the world of music, there ain't no justice. If there was, Brittany and N-Sync would be reduced to life-long servitude in K-Mart and Anton Barbeau would be feature in every jukebox.

Hailing from Sacramento, California, the fuzzy-topped one has released his fifth album and the second on the Frigidisk label. His most notable influence is Julian Cope, the English idiosyncratic 80s popster and former front man of The Teardrop Explodes. Anton writes pop songs in their purest form - there's no "I love you baby" bullshit here, unless he's in a particularly sarcastic mood. This album is more experimental than previous outings. Where last year's "Splendid Tray" was heavily Dylanesque, 17th Century Fuzzbox blues throws in drum machines 'Glucose for Baby', kitschy instrumentals 'Theme from Volkswagen, Casio', a bit of blues 'Hope Joy Fear (and too much beer in the dressing room)', and well… fuzzboxes everywhere else.

Of course, there's some of Anton's tender ballads, 'Who was the green bird', and the usual throwaway pop tunes like 'Little Daisy', which boasts the refrain "Do you think I'm a creep/or a lyrical guy?" The album's highlights are the atmospheric 'Dig my pig' and the heartfelt 'Lara brushing her hair in LA. Perhaps not as initially engaging as "Splendid Tray", "Fuzzbox" is a grower. It's certainly more consistent than his first albums, "The Horse's Tongue" and "Waterbugs and Beetles". Cheesy as it sounds, "Fuzzbox" is the soundtrack to an artist gaining maturity. Which is more than can be said for a generation of teenage crooners with enough testosterone to blow a hole in the world.

Anne-Louise Foley

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