Edwyn Collins Doctor Syntax

The career of Edwyn Collins is nothing to shake a stick at. Having built the foundations for "indie pop" in the early '80s with his band Orange Juice, the Scottish crooner has never really showed any signs of letting go of his grip on quirky pop. Having never really garnered much attention outside of the UK, a few years back he made quite a splash with his third post-Orange Juice album Gorgeous George, and the mega-hit "A Girl Like You." Sadly, this mainstream appeal was short-lived, but Collins by no means disappeared. Now back with his fifth solo album, Collins is a real one-man show, as he basically plays everything himself. With such an illustrious musical past it comes as a bit of a surprise that Doctor Syntax fails to produce a defined, catchy sound. Aside from "Splitting Up," the album is a jumble of styles and references that unfortunately don't really stick. His unique voice is starting to struggle a bit, and it seems that he bit off more than he could chew with this album. "20 Years Too Late" is a better example of Collins's potential, but perhaps the title is an omen of sorts his new material just has no real focus, moving awkwardly between cabaret pop, the funky '80s and slower, lounge-friendly swagger. It's as if the ingredients are all there but the final result comes out of the oven uncooked. (Setanta)