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Editors

In This Light and On This Evening

Fader

Buy if you like: Joy Division, She Wants Revenge

Given the way Editors have transformed their sound on this album, some will say the band's had a screw come loose. The downbeat guitar-pop outfit, which was voted second-most popular band of the decade in one leading newspaper, has moved sharply away from the sound of its first two albums in favor of a more synth-pop approach. It's kept its songwriting touch intact, and the melodies on songs like "Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool," "Papillon" and "Bricks and Mortar" are impressive. There's also a good balance between poppier material and more ominous sounds, with singer Tom Smith's rich baritone particularly well-suited to the darker hues. In fact, he's never sounded better on record. Still, the new style is notably less distinctive, and the fact that Editors now sound like She Wants Revenge doesn't help, either. — Alan Sculley

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Spoon

Transference

Merge

Buy if you like: The Beatles, Guided by Voices

Spoon mastermind Britt Daniel must listen to the Beatles a lot. He's definitely learned the value of a well-placed falsetto counter-melody, the power of contrasting lush background orchestration with pointed minimalism, the genius of the seemingly tossed-off moment. Eric Harvey shreds vocals like Lennon over smooth, mop-toppish harmonies, giving his indie-pop both a sharp edge and some shine. When he sings "Nobody cuts me like you" in "Nobody Gets Me Like You," it's a kind of metaphor for this album full of stabbing rhythms, piercing keyboards and sawed-off guitar riffs. With its pastiche of concert-hall and kindergarten-closet instruments, the song is awash in "Revolution No. 9" sonics. And even if we're not always sure what Harvey's getting at lyrically, he still makes us sit up and take notice. — Lynne Margolis

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Dawn Landes

Sweet Heart Rodeo

Cooking Vinyl

Buy if you like: Amy Rigby, Patty Griffin

Despite the country twang in her latest album title, Dawn Landes proves to be much more than a one-trick pony. Sure, there's some country, courtesy of the frisky title track and the ballad "Brighton," but that's just a small part of an album that turns out to be surprisingly varied. Take "Wandering Eye," which is one of the strongest tunes here. It's a country ballad at heart, but its woozy organ line gives it a charmingly off-kilter spin. "Romeo," meanwhile, is a keyboard-laced pop ballad with soulful overtones. And then there's the psychedelic-tinged "Love" and the unusual textures of "Clown," a full-on electro-pop tune with Tinkertoy overtones. All this eclecticism might lead a listener to view Sweet Heart Rodeo as, well, a bit schizophrenic. But Landes' playful attitude and the consistent quality of her songs ensure that this album never runs the risk of falling apart. — Alan Sculley

  • Editors, Spoon, Dawn Landes

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