New Deal Gone Gone Gone

Holding it down as the coolest jam-band on the planet is one thing, cutting tracks in the studio with minimal excesses is another. With Gone Gone Gone, the New Deal can truly say they’ve done both. The latest album (fifth in their discography, but number two of their studio recordings) unexpectedly clocks in at less than an hour. The songs are similarly concise, tightly arranged and for the most part, sound closer to pop than anything else they’ve done in the past. The title track punches out a synth line that’s as irresistibly catchy as anything by Daft Punk, yet aggressive enough to deceive guitar fans onto the dance floor. A potential crossover hit, the band are so obviously in love with its melody that they’ve also used it for three other tracks on the album, reinventing it with completely different tempos and instruments each time. The big surprise is on "Home,” which opens out with minor guitar strains and psychedelic dub movements, only to break down and glide into all-electronic, 808-driven house. It’s also great when the guys tone down their improv sensibilities and play back up to Feist and the operatic Martina Sorbara. The un-sexy attempt at Donna Summers is hard to forgive, but it’s not inconsistent with the rest of Gone Gone Gone’s unique vibe. (Universal)