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Album Review

Chester French, 'Love the Future'

April 20, 2009
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Pop
Chester French Love the Future
Star Trak/Interscope
ESSENTIAL "Bebe Buell"

Could this really be Chester French's first album? "Love the Future" sounds too wise - and too catchy - to possibly be the debut from recent Harvard grads D.A. Wallach and Max Drummey. These industrious boys, under the protective wing of Neptune and label honcho Pharrell Williams, have put together a Fountains of Wayne-esque collection of harmonic pop and sardonic lyrics that is a musical field trip of quick wit and loose women. The smart-alecky "Bebe Buell" has a raunchy pop energy reminiscent of Robbie Williams, post-Take That, pre-artistic decline. There is just enough retro-influenced studio trickery to give the album a big "We intended this to be ironic" wink and nudge to listeners. But when the boys decide to be sincere on "Fingers," they manage moments of lovely symphonic pop that aspires to Brian Wilson's finest. There are times when their brand of historic pop almost sounds too studied, such as the safe-sex anthem "She Loves Everybody." But those moments are a small price to pay for the exhilarating country jangle of "Beneath the Veil" or the ELO feel of "Neal." (Out tomorrow)

CHRISTOPHER MUTHER