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Album Review

The second wave of European trip-hop acts that has sprung up in the late '90s and early 2000s is a far more poppy scene than their more ambitious forefathers. Relying on slow beats, hypnotic synth lines, and soulful vocals, this move towards a catchier sound is an understandable progression. Airlock fits into this category, delivering laid-back electronica with a minimum of quirky flourishes and a heaping helping of jazz-influenced melodies. Although a bit empty lyrically, Drystar definitely offers its share of pleasant pop tracks when singer Esra Tasasiz clocks in. Her naive coo is an amiable counterpoint to the warm beats crafted by her bandmates, as evidenced by the passionate ballad "Awakening" and the sexy crawl of "Drama 73." What keeps this from being a better pop album in general is the lack of variety, which results in some faux Massive Attack dreaminess that doesn't go anywhere. These moments are woefully dull, not because they are terrible but because they tend to lessen the impact of the minor gems scattered throughout. Airlock has the right idea, but they need to find a more distinct method of delivery before they can stand out from the never-ending stream of trip-hop acts pouring out of Europe. Drystar is a mixed affair that tempers its better tracks with boring ones, but as a debut it at least shows a band that can shape good pop tracks out of this sound even if they haven't discovered their own voice yet.

Drystar, Airlock
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