In "Air Mixer," which begins a three-song set late in the album that really shines, that element is a bit of chiming and bouncy strings, which are paired with moody synths as the beats get heavier. The protagonist of the song, the air mixer, is a fraud: "You can't juggle, you can't scratch, you jack all your beats and you don't write a rap." I haven't heard this term for a phony, but I like it. "You're like a lip syncher/You fake mother fucker." Then the track cuts out completely, like the end of the Sopranos.

"Tiki Torch," the album's single of sorts, follows with sitar-seeming guitar work and Kelly McKenna singing with a big-time voice. Drums and bass trade off sections as though in competition. Jeff Barrell gets off a nice verse riffing on the Pretenders: "Circadian rain again/Here come the hate again." It rolls out with congas and more McKenna croon.

Then we get "Anchored Boat," which has the nicest groove of the album and features Bread, who really doesn't ever do much wrong.

Personally, I'd have moved that little three-song suite a fair bit earlier, but I think there's a good chance most listeners will make it there. This album is ambitious, interesting, and assertive. At times it gets the heart beating fast. You won't find a sing-along, but you knew that going in.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached atsam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

FITS & STARTS | Released by Trails |www.trailsounds.com

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