by Leah Sottile and Josh Smith & r & Caribou The Milk of Human Kindness FOUR STARS -- It really pushes my buttons when a goody-goody left-brainer infiltrates the snobbish ranks of the right-brained. Like when I found out my mathematician brother was an excellent painter. It's an invasion of my turf, and on the property of all us two-bit artists known as writers.
But after listening to The Milk of Human Kindness, I'm all for giving Caribou an honorary right-brain badge. Caribou (formerly Manitoba) is just one guy named Dan Snaith -- a red-haired, geeky, cataract-sunglasses-wearing math whiz from Canada. When he has free time away from his Ph.D. work, Snaith makes pop music. Milk, his latest, is a candy-coated conglomeration of punky electronica and frenetic drumming. A taste? Put DJ Shadow and the Gorillaz in sumo wrestling suits, douse them in pink frosting and feed them some Dexedrine - and you've got yourself a mouthful of Caribou. On Milk, technical electronica meets light-hearted trip-hop. And when you come off of Caribou's trip, you'll shake your head and beg for more. --Leah Sottile
The Wallflowers Rebel, Sweetheart THREE STARS -- Once the dust settled from the Wallflowers' multi-platinum album Bringing Down the Horse, Jakob Dylan focused more on songwriting than on continued celebrity. I can't put a name to a Wallflowers tune any more recent that "Three Marlenas," so they must have been successful. While their latest album is no earth-shattering achievement, it is a solid piece of work, with touches of Bruce Springsteen ("God Says Nothing Back") and Tom Petty ("All Things New Again"). While the album most likely will not get much radio play, it stands as a testament to intelligent working-class rock with informed, well-crafted lyrics liberally coupled with acoustic rock sensibilities. Dylan has plumbed the lyricist's bag of tricks -- everything from biblical references to allusions to the poetry of Byron and Whitman. Rebel, Sweetheart makes for an album that is easy to listen to and should please both longtime fans and Wallflowers newbies. --Josh Smith