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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

In Brief

April 11, 1999|Natalie Nichols

*** Ben Lee, "Breathing Tornados," Grand Royal/Capitol. Already on his third solo album at age 20, the singer-songwriter moves out of folk-pop troubadour mode, embellishing his acoustic-guitar melodies with keyboards and electronic rhythms. Good idea. Wry lyrical uppers and downers float in a colorful musical sea, while Lee's vocals vary from deadpan to earnest. The reflective ballads are nice, but propulsive anthems such as "Burn to Shine" approach the supernaturally bright pop of paragons from Todd Rundgren to Beck. Lee opens for Rufus Wainwright on Friday at the Henry Fonda Theatre.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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