"All About Chemistry" (MCA) -- Semisonic
Praise for Semisonic's follow-up to the "Closing Time" juggernaut will take some time to incubate -- even among the pop indie-rockers' most devoted.
"All About Chemistry," the jaunty title track that opens the CD, is the album's only viable single, with its juvenile double-meanings and bubble-gum hook. Most of the songs that follow lack the smoky, punch-and-groove pace that made "Feeling Strangely Fine," the band's 1998 release, sound so darn ... well, cool.
Lyrically, the wry, it's-just-between-us intimacy remains: Frontman Dan Wilson is still letting us in on all the lurid details of that icky stuff in relationships, like wasted overtures and sex as a weapon for spite.
It's the Minneapolis band's first attempt at producing their own record, and they've done a fine job of packaging Wilson's boyish crooning with the towering electronic trickery that distinguishes their sound from the typical power-trio.
There are moments of real innovation here, and to its credit, the album gets better with a few listens. But without the seat-kicking of an outside producer, the songs are lukewarm and not radio-friendly.
Highlights: A cameo songwriting/backing vocal appearance by '70s diva Carole King and a silly but infectious doggerel on sexual self-gratification.
-- By Josh L. Dickey, AP Writer
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