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Sound of Silver (DFA/Capitol)

James Murphy creates intelligent dance music by forging a canny, self-conscious blend of new-wave nostalgia, skittering breaks and wry wit. (He did, after all, almost write for Seinfeld.) Murphy's second full-length is more luxurious than his debut, apparently because he spent even more time crafting his slacker-operatic paeans. He acknowledges the approach on the slow-building opener, "Get Innocuous": "When once you have believed it/Now you see it sucking you in/To string you along with a pretense/And pave the way for the coming release." Sound of Silver is a front-loaded nine-song set that collects the four best tracks one after another, leaving only an intermittently interesting second half. But oh, those tracks: the irresistible single "North American Scum" sounds like Beck and Daft Punk covering Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime"; "Time to Get Away" unleashes more cowbell and Gang of Four guitar, while the fishtailing, goth-inflected synthpop of "Someone Great" and the arch New Order shimmer of "All My Friends" leave no doubt when Murphy grew up. Though the rest of Silver is a mixed bag, it's sculpted well enough to make it worth the ride.

 
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