Ivan Klipstein Lifestyle

I've always been mildly suspicious when it comes to white boys rapping, but it's just possible that Madison, Wisconsin's Ivan Klipstein has charmed me out of my reservations. The inexplicably titled Lifestyle is his third self-produced CD, a collection of oddball, genre-hopping pop songs whose busy arrangements produce mixed results. His high voice isn't particularly powerful, so in between rapping and crooning Klipstein employs a fluttery staccato singing style. This vocal affectation is put to wonderful use on songs such as "Crybaby," a cover of "Amazing Grace" and his paean to Britpop "Port of Entry." While his stammering vocals are distinctive, they aren't used as sparingly as they should be, and definitely begin to grate during the weaker songs. Klipstein enthusiastically cycles through indie-pop, country waltzes, dancehall and fuzzy guitar rock, often within the same song. He's fond of abrupt tempo changes and layers of cheese - when it works it leaves you grinning and when it doesn't the songs dissolve into muddy noise. He is also obsessed with whistles, toy pianos and his own human beatbox manoeuvres, which are all used to gorgeous effect on "Underground Underground." "Summertime on a Hot Day" offers up a few playful licks, à la G. Love and Special Sauce, with Klipstein not only working the word "fallopian" into the rap, but making it sound strangely sexy. If you can forgive his youthful exuberance and the occasional trite lyric, this might well be the ideal accompaniment on a summer drive out to the beach. (Crustacean)