Fort Lauderdale Pretty Monster

Channelling the spirit of Marc Bolan and early David Bowie, the UK duo known as Fort Lauderdale recreate ’70s glam rock for 2003. For an outfit whose beginnings had them working with electronic and hip-hop elements, Pretty Monster is quite the progression, paradoxically a retro move forward. What matters most is that Steve Webster and Toby Jenkins write great pop songs, but the grandiose arrangements, inventive instrumentation and overall sonic construction of Pretty Monster make their third album a cohesive tour de force. Tracks swell with a melodic bravado, sequenced to build from track to track as mellow swooning folk songs build their way up though guitar skronk, soaring strings, and chorusing saxophones, delivering the payoff again and again. We even get a first rate jazzy funk jam on "Sexy Creature” and "Rock’n’Roll,” well, rocks. And even though the ’70s reference points come fast and furious, including the folk strains of Nick Drake, some Glen Campbell country pop and Sparks-like operatic vocals they never get mired in one style. It’s a cumbersome album that should probably collapse under its own weight but actually succeeds due to its multitude of excesses. (Memphis Industries)