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Vilelenz and Thieves

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Album Review

Though not explicitly imitative of any one or two icons, the low-key, quirkily confessional pop of Frank Lenz can bring to mind the aura of the late-'60s Beach Boys, Elliott Smith, or some of Pete Townshend's more auteurish early solo work. Lenz is more tentative than any of those figures, however, which puts his third album on the attractive yet slight side. The homespun, mildly goofy spin he brings to the form would be at home on the K label, though the production is more refined (if hardly slick) here than it is on the usual K release. He doesn't have heavy messages to import, sometimes seeming to opt for disengagement rather than facing down the core issues, particularly in his lilting "I just wanna get high" refrains in "I've Got Other Things to Do," lamenting that he's "always been a f*****g poseur" (in "Bad Art") without any real sense of regret or frustration. The mood's predominantly acoustic and folky; he even sounds a bit like a light Neil Young, if such a thing's possible, on "Bullets in the Wall." But there are also occasional dabs of effective orchestration and, on "Bad Art" in particular, spacy sustained and eerie tones. It adds up to a fitfully charming record, though not one of great gravity.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Frank Lenz started taking drum lessons when he was eight years old. A natural, he was soon working as a session musician. After playing with several indie bands, Lenz developed his original work as a solo musician, mixing the pop of Burt Bacharach with the rock of Steely Dan, along with jazz fusion and Stevie Wonder-style R&B. "Playing drums is all I ever wanted to do," Lenz has said, and by the age of 13, he began his career as a studio drummer. He went on to play in bands such as the Lassie Foundation,...
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Vilelenz and Thieves, Frank Lenz
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