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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

MONO "Formica Blues" Mercury * * * 1/2

March 08, 1998|Ernesto Lechner

If Massive Attack's "Blue Lines" was a manifesto for the trip-hop movement, Mono's debut album is its full realization.

Producer Martin Virgo and breathy singer Siobhan de Mare have concocted an enchanting aural landscape that manages to strike a perfect balance between the sour, cerebral pop of Portishead and the naive, retro cool of the Sneaker Pimps. Two of the samples they use indicate how much Mono's sound is an end-of-the-millennium reinterpretation of the swinging '60s: John Barry's "The Ipcress File" and Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By."

But "Formica Blues" is more than just precious revivalism. There's the gorgeous pop of "Disney Town" and the Erik Satie-like instrumental "Hello Cleveland!," in which the adventurous duo offers its take on another trip-hop staple--the soundtrack theme for a movie that doesn't exist. Mono's integration of four decades of British pop into one aesthetic package is as fulfilling as it gets.

*

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

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