Skates Lord of the Rinks

The Skates EP, with its five original tracks and five remixes, half works and half doesn’t — the beats work, but the vocals don’t. The former are courtesy of Todd Droolin, who is better known as Books on Tape, and his compositional style demonstrates both curiosity and intuition for what works and what doesn’t. Although its musical roots are a head trip to classify, the beats are definitely serious, with portions of dry hip-hop, light techno, a dab of pop-rock and other assorted electronica genre scraps. Vocalist Melissa Dungan’s under-developed lyrics and vocal style slows down the decent music. By pushing her voice from the top of the back of her throat for a sing-speech rap-like delivery, she verges on pretentious. It’s as if she’s aiming for Gold Chains in tone but lacks the "wink wink” to make it likeable. There’s a vague sense that the album is not a totally finished product, and that the group is still slightly uncertain about how to make their skills mesh. Dungan in particular is guilty of unintentional rawness, since she is an energetic performer who needs to spend some time finding the ground between what her voice can do and what it sounds good doing. (Unschooled)