Josh Rouse
Under Cold Blue Stars
/ryko; 2002/

rating : 6.5  




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Josh Rouse's "Under Cold Blue Stars" makes me think of Sondre Lerche's debut album released a couple of months ago. "Faces Down" is a great sunny pop album that makes you feel Summer is already here, making you expect to meet beautiful hardly dressed creatures out in the street. Unfortunately it was released during the neverending wet and cold month of January.

Unlike Sondre Lerche's album -which will make a great Summer record if we've not grown tired of it til then- Josh Rouse's fourth release comes at the right time. It features ten songs and an instrumental -the short "Twilight" which introduces the album. It is to "Faces Down" what night is to day, what winter is to summer (what is great about being a reviewer is being able to let all the poetry inside of you go freely). Josh Rouse's songs are shelters from the cold wet and lonely winter nights, with a fireplace and bowls of warm soup. 
The three first songs are surgical brain scalpels piercing their way into your subconscious. If you succeed in resisting "Nothing Gives me Pleasure," -far less negative than it seems to be (Nothing gives me pleasure like you do)- and "Miracle" with its oh-so 80ish keyboards and a killer chorus then "Christmas with Jesus" which sounds like a lost hit single out of U2's "Joshua Tree" will crush the last barriers of anti-pop resistance inside of you. Things get a little less exciting afterwards, the title track is probably the worst song on the album. But just when you thought that the three first songs were the only good songs, dusting off the "this ok lp would have made a great ep" argument, Rouse unleashes "Feeling No Pain," the intro sounds like the intro of a Flaming Lips song, unfortunately Josh Rouse is far less excentric than the Lips, so things calm down afterwards. "Summer Kitchen Ballad" would have made a great closer if it were the last song on the album. "Women and Men" makes me think of a song out of James Iha's solo album, a cute and fragile butterfly-like pop thing (I know nobody's supposed to like James Iha's solo album but i do.) The last song (which is unfortunately not as good as "Summer Kitchen Ballad") reminds me of a (good) Clem Snide song, but I've forgotten the title, sorry dear reader.

-Barbara H.