The Weekly Jive

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Posted November 6, 2008 in Music

The PoliceCertifiable (A&M/Best Buy)

Considering the bickering that often went on in the studio between members of The Police, it’s a wonder they managed to put out five albums. Even more surprising was Sting’s announcement in 2007 that he’d agreed to reunite the band after 21 years for a world tour. Following the second gig, drummer Stewart Copeland was already ranting on his website that they sounded “unbelievably lame” and “totally at sea.” By the time the trio did Dodger Stadium that June, they’d ironed out most of the kinks. Double-disc concert collection Certifiable (the title refers to Sting’s usual answer when asked whether The Police would reform: “you’d have to be certified insane”) was recorded Dec. 1-2 at River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires. The spirited, nearly two-hour gig finds the reggae/rock veterans in top form. Although some songs have tempered arrangements that aren’t as taxing (“Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da”), Sting has little trouble hitting the high end of his vocal range (listen for a sustained note on “Walking on the Moon”). Others are extended past the six-minute mark to allow still masterful guitarist Andy Summers room to shine (“Wrapped Around Your Finger,” “Can’t Stand Losing You”). Copeland’s tribal polyrhythms on “Walking in Your Footsteps” are marvelous. There’s plenty of life left in these geezers; too bad the reunion had to end. The package contains two DVDs in wide screen/surround sound with a documentary. (George A. Paul)

 

Frida Hyvonen—Silence Is Wild (Secretly Canadian)

Part of the rich Nordic Invasion of recent years, this Swedish singer’s 2006 debut was notable for bare-boned piano-and-voice confessionals that, especially sonically, only seemed to reaffirm stereotypes about Scandinavians’ darker inclinations. But while this follow-up still traffics in the intelligent, no-punches-pulled narratives that mark Hyvonen as an uncompromising female songwriter (like early Liz Phair with the drama dialed back), musically the two records are vastly different—if her debut was winter, this is Swedish summer. The sparse keyboard figures of opener “Dirty Dancing” evolve into a fleshed-out Girl Group/Phil Spector-vibe, which sets the tone for the record’s dramatic but still judicial use of orchestral strings, full-throated choirs, swirling organs and synths. Ditto for the city-paean “London!,” which sounds like an updated Petula Clark number, or the theatrical ABBA-esque pop of “Scandinavian Blonde,” where Hyvonen sarcastically turns Nordic stereotypes on their heads by confirming some of them. There are still moments of skeletal fragility like the cello and piano of the marriage meditation “My Cousin,” but Hyvonen’s music is more playful and inviting throughout, and the juxtaposition with her often discomforting stories—see the circus-piano/abortion tale “December”—only strengthens the impact of her material. (John Schacht)

 

Lady GaGa—The Fame (Streamline)

Full and lush like your crush’s red lips, Lady GaGa’s music is sensual yet aloof, robotic but ruthlessly danceable. Marrying the suggestive sass of Pink and Rihanna to bashing beats and vast slabs of Euro-techno straight outta Ibiza’s teaming clubs and Bangkok’s tranced-out all-nighters, The Fame is a best-of-all-worlds coming together of songs, sex and neon-etched escape. Though now LA-based and indulging in some of that clipped Gwen Stefani marionette cadence, this Akon protégé brings a dusky authenticity rooted deep in her native New York’s club culture and even a touch of throw-back vaudeville swagger. Despite lyrics mentioning “disco sticks” and “boys in cars,” The Fame is more fun than silly, and flirts dangerously with late-night menace and in-the-know, expensive sleaze. Latex-clad, blonde n’ ballsy, Lady GaGa delivers Parisian-quality, accessible electro-pop of the highest order—don’t be put off by the fact that she’s currently opening for New Kids on the Block (seriously). (Paul Rogers)

 

 

 


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