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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

** CRASH TEST DUMMIES, "A Worm's Life," Arista

December 01, 1996|Steve Hochman

The Dummies' third album opens with "The Over-Achievers," in which singer-songwriter Brad Roberts tells mildly amusing parables of such odd characters as a woman who prays for men to be repelled so she can devote her life to God and is "rewarded amply with a full beard."

But that title could just as well apply to the Canadian quintet itself, which has won a sizable following far exceeding the modest charms of its two most notable features--Roberts' loamy baritone and love of dry irony.

On past hits "Superman's Song" and "Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm"--supported by pleasant, mid-tempo folkie pop--those elements were certainly noteworthy but hardly passion-worthy. Nothing on this album alters either the modus operandi or the assessment.

Roberts can still come up with intriguing, moral-implicit scenarios--in "My Enemies" he deals with hate by imagining his rivals dressed as pink bunnies but ultimately while meditating sees his own belly, "pink and soft and weak." But while he's great at eliciting bemused hmmmms, he never sparks a single wow. (Crash Test Dummies play Dec. 9 and 10 at the House of Blues.)

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and 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. Crash Test Dummies *5717

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

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