February í99

Considering the copyright notice on the booklet says 1999, would it be a stretch to say I have seen the future of pop? Copper Records serves up another winner with this joyous, bouyant, textural record from the versatile Darin, Austinís version of Todd Rundgren.

Although Darinís songs contain all the elements of great pop records, itís the variety of arrangements and the masterful engineering work that lift Solitarium above the pack. Simply put, the record is a sonic masterpiece. Darin credits the yeoman work of both Lars Goransson (Cardigans, among others) and Mack McNabb (Soulhat) for the inventiveness, along with "some great tube gear to get that Brit analog sound." From the opening track "Funky Flying Chair" you know that youíre in territory that only people like Willie Wisely and Cotton Mather tread. In fact, listeners may recall labelmates Cotton Mather during "Sheís Better Than Me," an uptempo rocker that would sound great alongside Brad Jonesí work on "Church of Wilson." Thereís always a danger of being too cute and creating a disjointed project, but here the unique pieces all flow together well.

Multi-instrumentalist Darin says that these songs came about from "screwing around for the last two or three years on a four-track," and although you can see where the influences shine through, this is by no means a copycat exercise. "Donít Look at Me" is a Dylanesque pop track, while the albumís best track "Down" is Lennon circa The Beatles (White Album). Wah-wah guitar and harmonica breaks accentuate the hypnotic "Sermon On Mars," while "Prison Break" uses a bossa nova beat and cheesy organ as its pop palate. Listen to the middle of "Stuck in a Hole" and tell me Harry Nilsson isnít digging this one from above. Jason Falkner fans will appreciate "Big Pink Glasses" 9as well as the soft opening of "Down") while XTC meets the Posies in the lively "15 Minutes."

Thereís not a bad track or a weak moment on the record! Solitarium (like Darin himself)

Has seemingly come out of nowhere and is a serious contender for the best record of 1998.

-Bill Holmes