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Neneh Cherry & The Thing

The Cherry Thing

Smalltown Supersound Records

File next to: Miles Davis, Velvet Undergound

Nearly 25 years after her brilliant "Buffalo Stance" single, hitmaker Neneh Cherry teams up with Swedish free-jazz trio the Thing for an eight-song album, six of which are covers. The record kicks off with her original, "Cashback," setting the tone with its clashing, diving combination of her smooth, almost sweet vocals over jagged saxophone and drums. The covers are anything but slavish, as Cherry and her cohorts take a transformative approach that makes them their own. Among the best are Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream," a quiet narrative take on rapper MF Doom's profanity-filled "Accordion" (anchored by a very quiet bass), a spooky reworking of her cornetist stepfather Don Cherry's "Golden Heart" and the record's gem, a quavering, slow, raw version of "Dirt," that somehow manages to get to the same place as the Stooges original. The Cherry Thing might be a bit on the outre side of things, but it's coolly so. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Mom + Pop Music

File next to: The Cars, The Ting Tings

Synthetica is an appropriate name for Metric's fifth album, as the Canadian band shifts toward sleeker synthesizers and programmed rhythms. The guitars that helped power 2009's Fantasies play more of a supporting role here, while the drums have been dialed back on the walloping beats of past arena-sized anthems like "Front Row" and "Arena Love." This certainly could have been a recipe for a colder, more lifeless album, but frontwoman Emily Haines still imbues her lyrics with a human, sometimes fragile, quality. There's lots of bounce in the melodies of "Speed the Collapse," "Breathing Underwater" and "Lost Kitten," while the title track and "Youth Without Youth" recapture some of the guitar-and-drums thunder of earlier works. There's nothing as immediately commanding as "Help I'm Alive," but the catchy material and Haines' charisma continue to make Metric one of rock's most engaging bands. — Alan Sculley


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