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Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Modfab On...Blake Lewis "Heartbreak On Vinyl"

The most surprising new contender for 2009's best album has to be Blake Lewis's charming, accomplished, and addictive sophomore disc, Heartbreak on Vinyl. It is easily the strongest recording from any of the American Idol alumni since Kelly Clarkson; but more than that, it reveals the maturation of a major dance artist...one that should, in there is any justice in today's music industry, be around for a very long time.

Lewis's first album, 2007's Audio Day Dream, hinted tantalizingly at the young beat-boxer's promise. Still under the supervision of Idol's production team, however, Audio Day Dream felt a little cloying, a little desperate, a little market-tested for my tastes. Heartbreak on Vinyl, by contrast, has been made under the watchful eye of Lewis's new label, Tommy Boy, an organization with a decades-long history of successfully promoting dance artists. The change in direction and approach is clear, and pays off magnificently.

Heartbreak on Vinyl's admirable qualities rush over you from the very first notes, and it's hard to decide exactly which virtues impress most. The album exhibits an astonishing understanding of the mechanics, context and history of dance music and club culture. Lyrically, the songs straddle the personal ("The Point") and the political (the title track is an upbeat requiem for record store culture) with blunt intelligence that never seems inaccessible. Lewis is unafraid of melody or rhythm, a rarity in the genre today. One listens to Heartbreak on Vinyl with the sense that it's a dance classic, like Moby's Play or Daft Punk's Discovery, that satisfies the need for beat without having to check your brain at the door.

Although all 13 tracks hang together extremely well as a set, some of the individual songs warrant shout-outs of their own. Chief among them are the robots-in-love cheekiness of "Binary Love," which is destined for massive club play; the elegiac "Rebel With A Cause;" and "Love or Torture (Please Don't Stop)," which feels like a 21st-century variation on the thumping eroticism of Soft Cell. It's rare to find a young artist knock a home run out of the musical park, but this Heartbreak brings nothing but joy.

Listen | "Binary Love," Blake Lewis
Watch | "Sad Song," Blake Lewis

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Blogger Cal said...

So glad you're loving this. I heard "Sad Song" and went crazy for it, so I'm going to download it very soon!

I remember wanting Blake to win after seeing him do The Cure's "Love Song" on Idol. He was always the most creative and individual one in the contest (well, as creative and individual as you can be on that kind of stage).

10/7/09, 7:00 PM  

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