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Great taste, but less filling

ROCK

Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts

Let's Just Be
(Lonely Astronaut)
Essential: "Good Life"

The warning came when Arthur, a songwriting master who often works alone, raved about recording 80 tunes with his band, the Lonely Astronauts. We’re going to put out two albums this year, he told interviewers. As the laws of quantitative rockology (see: Adams, Ryan) have taught us, more is usually less. And ‘‘Let’s Just Be’’ is no exception. Clocking in at almost 80 minutes, what the record needed was a villainous record company wonk demanding cuts. Those hoping for a disc that matches 2006’s stunning ‘‘Nuclear Daydream’’ or my favorite Arthur album, 2002’s ‘‘Redemption’s Son,’’ will be disappointed. Arthur has checked his Nick Drake at the studio door. He’s thrilled to have a band, and not about to waste it on brooding meditations of love and loss. He’s also proud to have recorded with few, if any, overdubs, the ultimate buzzkill in the jam-band universe. Fair enough. But the result is a wildly uneven record. As you’re drowning in the dreck — at 20 minutes and 33 seconds, ‘‘Lonely Astronaut,’’ which invokes the worst of Primus, the Doors, and Dave Matthews, is a prime offender — it’s easy to lose sight of the deliciously danceable title track and the electric-guitar groove of the record’s opening tracks, ‘‘Diamond Ring’’ and ‘‘Good Life.’’ [Geoff Edgers] Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts play at the Middle East Downstairs tomorrow night.

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