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Come on, get happy: pop combo the Aluminum Group keeps things polished and stylish on their latest CD.

More Happyness * The Aluminum Group * Wishing Tree Records

The release of More Happyness marks the second entry in the Aluminum Group's Happyness concept-album trilogy, although one could argue that this group is all concept. An erudite, postmodern easy-listening outfit with gay Chicago-based brothers John and Frank Navin (pictured above) at the center, the Aluminum Group boasts class, art, aesthetics, and irony: During their lounge act-gone-nouveau concerts last year, the Prada-bedecked pair were accompanied exclusively by iPods.

Like Happyness before it, More Happyness clever]y beds lyrics about not entirely happy firings within pleasant, misleading melodic pillows of lush vocals, electronics, guitar, samples, strings, horns, and sophisticated percussion. Think the Style Council filled out by Steely Dan, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach, and Coil.

The track "Youth Is Wasted on Nothing" is rife with knowing choruses easily sung while exchanging glances, nods, and interpretive hand gestures. (Steve and Eydie--or better yet, Liza-here's a song you need to cover.)

Hooks are sometimes overshadowed or bumped by texture and production. That's not necessarily bad, but as a result there's little as melodically single-ready as Happyness's "Pop" or "Oxygen," although the peppy "Youth Is Wasted on Nothing" sure gets close. And if you can get past the completely avant-pretentious misstep of the blippy, clicky "Snowflake," you'll enjoy hearing bossa nova get a flattering Aluminum brushing with "Colored Town." "Little Boy" and "Wheat and Tare" are both lullaby-loverly.

A queer quotient exists in "Motorcycles" and "Without. the Erte." The former, written with Matthew Shepard in mind, addresses a conservative element who "see their worlds through scopes on rifles / in motorcades and motorcycles." Even more direct, "Without the Erte" relays one of John's lusty hook-up experiences, a wellspring tapped on most of the group's albums, notably Pelo's "Tom of Finland" and Piano's "Sugar & Promises." Bouncy percussion and Gary Numan--esque synth flourishes add perky perversity to a tale of picking up a tattooed "ghoul in a thrift store" and ditching an Erte print in Lieu of hot sex. When's the last time you heard about that in a Coldplay song?

Ferber has also written fur Entertainment Weekly and Time Out. New York.
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Article Details
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Author:Ferber, Lawrence
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Oct 14, 2003
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