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RECORD RACK

* * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty : : Ironic Act

November 22, 1987|CHRIS WILLMAN

* * 1/2 THE BALANCING ACT. "Three Squares and a Roof." PMRC. Picture Simon & Garfunkel crooning in harmony over Paul's guitar about Cathy or America or something--then subtract all the narrative clarity, add a slightly rumbling rhythm of brushes-on-snare underneath, and put big, existential smirks on their contemplative faces. Now you're getting somewhere within range of L.A.'s own Balancing Act, a mostly acoustic quartet-about-town with nifty harmonies and a well-developed case of irony on the brain. The choice of songs on the group's second record is pretty much between nice, painterly sketches ("3 Cards") and uneven collections of dry punch lines ("The Ballad of Art Snyder")--with the balancing scale leaning heavily toward the fey, a little of which goes a long way. These art monsters' minds seem in the right places; the only thing in doubt is their hearts.

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