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Dreamland

Aztec Camera

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Album Review

Whoever got the idea of putting erstwhile lo-tech pop hero Roddy Frame in the studio with the legendarily hi-tech keyboardist/composer/producer Ryuichi Sakamoto ought to at least get credit for thinking outside the box. And if the experiment wasn't an unqualified success, well, that's what usually happens when you think outside the box. Dreamland is far from a failure; by this point in his career, Frame's pop craft is too instinctive to permit that. But Sakamoto does occasionally threaten to overwhelm the songs with his patented super-smooth production and studio fripperies (those strings! those backing vocals!), and in a few cases the songs themselves aren't structurally capable of supporting all that added weight. Several tracks, in particular the rather silly "Spanish Horses," will leave you thinking "Gosh, that was pretty. How did it go again?" And "Safe in Sorrow," a gorgeous pop/soul ballad, feels like it wants to go twice as fast as it does, but can't. All that said, there are some great moments here, including the aching "Let Your Love Decide" and the slightly creepy "Valium Summer"; fans of the Camera should like this album just fine.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Aztec Camera was the brainchild of Roddy Frame, a Scottish songwriter and vocalist whose precocious talent — he was still in his teens when the band cut their acclaimed debut album, High Land, Hard Rain — earned the band a loyal cult following. With Frame's knack for catchy, upbeat melodies and wordplay that often invited comparisons to Elvis Costello, Aztec...
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