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Trip Pop Redux

La Folie
(Dune Records)

Since I heard Portishead back in 1994, I've been a big fan of the trip hop genre. Sure, it's probably been around longer than that, but in the 5 years since that groundbreaking release, there have been a lot of bands come out with a lot of different flavors. Everyone from the pop-tinged Sneaker Pimps to the darker Tricky to the more hip-hop sided Morcheeba. One could even argue that the very mainstream group Garbage falls into the genre somewhere, even though they've gotten more credit while a lot of the groundbreakers have yet to find the spotlight.

Lin is yet another entry into the genre on the smaller label Dune Records and probably fall into the more mainstream side of things, sounding like a mixture between Esthero, Garbage, and the Sneaker Pimps while encorporating both ethereal female and rapped (and sometimes whispered) male MCed type vocals. As it happens with music of this sort, how well the songs come across inevitibly often rest on the lyrical content and delivery of the vocals. In the case of Lin, unfortunately this is a stumbling point that trips the group up on many ocassion, even though their music stays fairly sharp throughout.

The disc starts out with some nice spooky sounds and a good beat, but as mentioned above, some affected vocals make their way into the mix and with their gansta-rap delivery, they just feel sort of out of place. Tricky manages to pull it off simply because his voice sounds so damn growly all the time, but the pitch bend sounds out-of-place here. Eventually, though, the track picks up a fair amount and the vocals move into a lighter delivery with nice, light female backing vocals. Simply known as June, the female vocals take the lead in the second track "Lawn Cocktail," and although it sounds a lot like the Sneaker Pimps, it also works pretty darn well. The male vocals are there as well, but they mainly fall in as a backing whisper and add another interesting layer to it all.

The group goes with more a hip-hoppy beat on the 3rd track, and this time the delivery fits the music with the MCed vocals. During the chorus, the two-part vocals play off one another just right and although there is a glitch in the CD data (perhaps a problem at the plant?) nearly 2:45 through, the group again shows their penchant for writing a catchy track. From there on out, things are really hit or miss, from the awesome music, but super-corny vocals of "Crowd Non Pleasers" to the ethno dubby sounds of the title track "La Folie."

In the end, the lyrical problem is the one that seems to trip the group up the most. Instead of letting things role more often, its seems that they always need some sort of vocal part in the mix. Although not particularly inventive, the tracks are fairly catchy and things work the best when the group finds a nice balance between the two-part vocals, letting them play off one another and the music.

Rating: 5