Tommy Burton Reviews Sparkling Objective Correlatives

Our own Rusty Spell. He gets a PhD and then makes a record of extreme beauty and trite pop. "Music Box" is just what it says and anybody would kill for a melody like this. It's simply perfect. Rusty's lyrics teeter between the banal and brilliant. I think he likes them that way. References to "a world of wonder" in the song "Teddy Ruxpin" may leave some asking if its genius or just stupid. But Brian Wilson always walked that line and it was good enough for him. Simplistic, yet perfect. But somehow, instead of making this perfect record, Rusty insists on paying tribute to hip dance music and modern talk show talk. "Hubba Hubba" is the prime example of this with its references to passing STD tests and the wonder of having a girlfriend with nice breasts (Don't think it's sexist, the female in the duet gets to pay tribute to her man's unit). Again, I ask, "Is it just stupid or simply brilliant?" It might not be so hard to walk that line if Rusty went a single direction or pulled a Herbie Hancock and just led a double life; one as a modern radio hipster and the other as pure pop tunesmith. Perhaps they go hand in hand for Rusty. This album contains some wonderful moments and every single enduring second is just as engaging as the previous. The return of various female singers also helps for variety. With the absolutely stunning "Everything About Me" closing the record, you can't help but think that Rusty is one of the most engaging songwriters around. And like all good songwriters, he leaves us wondering whether or not he meant to do that. Grade: B+

Copyright (c) Oct 2002 by Love and Letters Music