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Pop is one of the most overused terms in the rock-critic lexicon, but on Whereabouts, Ron Sexsmith's third and most ambitious album to date, the brilliant Canadian singer/songwriter offers up 12 pop gems. "Still Time", the opening track, kicks things off with a purpose. Featuring an immediately memorable and haunting guitar riff, Beach Boys-style harmonies, and a hopeful yet melancholic lyrical theme ("Still time for love"), it could be mistaken as an outtake from the Kinks songbook. Likewise, "Right About Now" has a distinctly Lennon-esque flair. Sexsmith's familiar idiosyncratic-yet-warm Jackson Browne-like vocals give all 12 tracks a certain sadness. Sexsmith and producer Mitchell Froom temper the darkness with neat tricks of the trade--be they the harpsichord that fades in and out of "Still Time", the banjo and violin on "Riverbed", the heavy piano riff that opens the wonderful "Feel for You," the lo-fi organ that pops up on "The Idiot Boy", or the New Orleans-meets-cabaret orchestra that gives "One Grey Morning" additional charm. This is melancholic pop, to be sure, but it all hurts so good. Whereabouts is further proof that Sexsmith is one of the most important artists to come out of the 1990s
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  • Seller location: Porirua, Wellington, NZ

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