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***, PETE DROGE & THE SINNERS, "Find a Door," American Recordings

June 23, 1996|Steve Hochman

The Seattle-based Droge arrived a couple of years ago as a winning package--a twentysomething singer-songwriter who is sensitive but not wimpy, literate but not snotty, clever but not obnoxious, cute but not hunky. He's sort of Evan Dando without the dark streak.

With his second album, he's grown into that role, showing an assuredness in both writing and delivery--with his post-grunge folk-rock toughened a little, thanks to his road-tested new band. He wisely makes no attempt to repeat the catch-phrase wordplay of his best-known song, "If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)," instead expanding on its slacker gestalt with a set of odes to inertia.

You've heard of passive-aggressives? These are passive-passives: There's "distant" Stacy of "It Doesn't Have to Be That Way," who has no clue why her lover left and no will to find out; the slothful narrator of "Brakeman," whose lover is set to leave if he doesn't get a job; Droge himself penning a "Dear Diane" letter that will probably never reach the addressee who has abandoned him.

He delivers these tales with droll understatement that accents a certain cynicism, a la John Hiatt or Randy Newman. But like them, Droge clearly loves his losers. And that's a lovable, if passive, trait in itself.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).

* TimesLine 808-8463

To hear excerpts from the albums reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code.

Pete Droge *5716

In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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