Merlin Merlin's Milkbar Stereo

If Merlin wants to be your soda jerk, might as well let him. The Montreal multi-tasker returns with the refreshingly upbeat yet unoriginal Merlin's Milkbar Stereo, an album that often dips down into the generic '80s pop realm before eventually finding the funk. Taking over the control booth (he sings, writes, produces and pretty much plays all the damn instruments too), the radio-friendly songs kick-off with the catchy Playboy ionterview-sounding "Rock Star Skinny" - it's title tipping the listener off to Merlin's increasingly guitar-driven direction. Don't bother wondering where the raps are. The record does, however, reach a sweaty, uh, climax with "Sex" - during which Merlin is possessed by Dirty Mind-era Prince - and "Adrenaline Junkie," a raging caustic slab of Timba-fied funk complete with a blazing buzz saw hook that'll have you on repeat. (MCA)