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Album Review

Theophilus London: “Timez Are Weird These Days’’

By Ken Capobianco
July 19, 2011

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Theophilus London is riding a huge buzz thanks to his mixtapes and fashionista persona, so the weight of expectations on this debut is great. He provides some inspired moments, but the lanky MC-vocalist can’t quite shoulder the burden. The thumping opening track, “Last Name London,’’ promises rigorous hip-hop, but he never defines himself as an MC and frequently allows the cleverly produced tracks - by such musicians as Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), among others - to do much of the talking. This turns out to be more of a pop-dance disc that merely nods to hip-hop as it mixes deep bass lines with ’80s-influenced synths and melodic hooks. A few tracks betray some sour lyrics. “Why Even Try’’ finds London scorning his ex over an insistent bass and a singsong hook supplied by Sara Quin. Sometimes London’s verses are curious; on an album built for clubbing, he gratuitously calls out a party girl on “Girls Girls $.’’ The disc comes off as a finely crafted pop pastiche rather than an innovative breakthrough. (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “All Around the World’’