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Big Star 

In Space (Rykodisc)

Big Star founder Alex Chilton escaped hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, but apparently the masters for In Space, the band's first studio album in 30 years, were lost in the flood. What else could explain this limp counterfeit now on the racks? Space unfolds like a song-by-song study of what not to do with the power-pop genre Chilton helped invent. "Lady Sweet" makes the style precious, the instrumental "Aria Largo" trudges, and "Love Revolution" ("Brothers and sisters! We need to get together! Create a manifesto!") is just awkward. Still, not every minute is drudging simulacra. "Dony" goes for trashy chick-lust with a grinding bass line, and drummer Jody Stephens is almost canny enough to make these halfhearted, copycat tunes groove. (Almost.) But pensive moments like "Best Chance We've Ever Had" are merely painful: "The people around us, well they'll never dare/The ones that are too blind are everywhere." Um, OK, but if you record a concept album where the concept is tossing off the first couplets that come to mind, you might sing them as if you weren't bored with the enterprise. Chilton clearly is.

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September 23, 2020

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