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Killing Joke

Absolute Dissent

Universal

Buy if you like: U2, Stiff Little Fingers

So can Danger Mouse's production somehow bring U2 back to life on its next album? Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath — especially when you can more easily find a fair number of breathtaking moments on Absolute Dissent, the first reunion of Killing Joke's original lineup in two decades. Vocalist Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie Walker channel the anthemic spirit of early Bono and the Edge on the title cut, while subsequent tracks offer up the rougher stuff that made fans out of Metallica (who appear on the deluxe edition's bonus covers disc) as well as the more melodic fare that led Paul McCartney to partner with bassist Youth in the band Fireman. Fans of post-punk legends like Gang of Four, Stiff Little Fingers and New Model Army — all of whom could rock harder than their snarly predecessors — should be well pleased. And come to think of it, so should you. — Bill Forman

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Keith Urban

Get Closer

Capitol

Buy if you like: Kenny Chesney, Richard Marx

Gee, these songs sounded good on the awards shows. And at first, they sound good here. But with eight tracks clocking in at less than 35 minutes (seven extra tunes go to Target buyers), Keith Urban winds up coming off as just another slicked-up Nashville product, willing to turn any sentiment into an overblown production that will fill stadiums but not your heart. He starts out promisingly with "Put You in a Song," a rockin' love declaration that's only slightly over-polished. But "You Gonna Fly," "Long Hot Summer" (a Richard Marx co-write) and even the sweet love song "Without You" sound so, well, treated, it's as if they came from a factory that throws in fabulous guitar chops, but can't remember why. Sure, we're all for being happy, but happy musicians can make for boring albums. Here's one more. — Lynne Margolis

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Robyn

Body Talk

Cherrytree

Buy if you like: Madonna, Lady Gaga

This is the final installment of Robyn's 2010 trilogy of releases including Body Talk Pt. 1, Body Talk Pt. 2 and now, the more austerely titled Body Talk. This time the Swedish sensation combines five songs from each of its predecessors with five new tracks. It's a propulsive mixture that bounces from bubbly pop to tear-stained balladry. Among the highlights are the undeniably fun "Fembot," the hits "Dancing on My Own" and "Hang With Me," the Snoop Dogg duet "U Should Know Better" and the Max Martin-produced "Time Machine." Robyn may not have the outrageousness of Lady Gaga or the exceeding high profile of Katy Perry, but her smart, accessible, highly entertaining music is more than equal to theirs. Sure, we've still got a good month to go, but at this point, Body Talk clearly seems poised to be the dance-pop album of 2010. — L. Kent Wolgamott

  • Killing Joke, Keith Urban, Robyn

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