White dudes trafficking in come-hither R&B can be broken down into two schools of thought. There's imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery revivalism ("The Mayer Hawthorne"), or intentionally over-the-top deconstruction ("The Har Mar"). For nearly a decade, however, Erik Appelwick has traveled a decidedly lonelier path. Through three albums as Vicious Vicious, Appelwick's scintillating slow jams and boisterous booty-shaking romps both acknowledge a debt to Bootsy Collins and inject distinctly modern electronic elements into the mix. Though Vicious Vicious's first album in nearly five years makes good on Appelwick's aim of forgoing frivolity, it remains irresistibly catchy. Recorded with bassist James Buckley and drummer Martin Dosh, the songs beautifully blend shadowy atmospherics with pristine pop sensibilities. The tension between Dosh's heady electronic touches and Appelwick's primal pop urges is mirrored in the album's lyrical world, which finds Appelwick embracing dual roles as both a jilted romantic and unrepentant lady killer. For all his talk of sincerity, there's still plenty of ribald lyrical riffing ("When you fire up your engines girl/You know I'm gonna feel the heat") and flights of steamy falsetto fancy. The difference between this record and its predecessors is that this time around for every libidinous come-on there's a tender and introspective counterpoint. With Gramma's Boyfrield, All Tomorrow's Petty. (Photo by Graham Tolbert)
Fri., April 6, 9 p.m., 2012
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