It shouldn't come as a surprise that the sons of Jimmy Webb ("The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress") have an affinity for emotional bombast and Baroque flourishes. Their second album is full of soaring choruses and orchestral backdrops that might as well have been inspired by Tunesmith, Webb the Elder's giant treatise on the art of song. Less predictable are the steps the brothers take toward forging their own distinctively contemporary voice. Their subject matter is the lifestyle of carefree (and careless) swingers, and they capture it in spare, acidic lyrics that are almost the opposite of their father's grandiloquence. "Fluorescent Lights" is typical: "It's three in the morning she's lovely/But ugly to me/In fluorescent lights we'd be sickening to see." "All the Cocaine in the World" takes the strategy to an extreme. It's built on a single line, repeated in pretty harmony: "All the cocaine in the world/Can't bring back the girl." While the themes remain constant, musical styles fly fast and furious. Jangly guitar and kitschy synthesizers power "Summer People," horns and rolling piano take over for the cha cha "Intermission," and "Fluorescent Lights" is a strings-heavy waltz. The eclecticism, along with the jaded, wasted character of the lyrics, makes Maroon a cousin to Rufus Wainwright's Poses, another breakthrough album by a second-generation songwriter. The marriage of sophisticated, catchy melodies and cynical sentiments also brings to mind the work of Joe Pernice. That's impressive company for a couple of young talents still skulking in the shadows of "MacArthur Park."-AMG
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