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The last time New York's high-concept electroclash outfit Fischerspooner tried to go pop, it didn't have much in the way of songs to make an impact on people not impressed by synth squelch alone. So the duo came up with a stage show heavy on spectacle, lampooning the costumes, lighting, and special effects used by megastars like Madonna and Janet Jackson while benefiting from them all the same. On Odyssey, the first album Fischerspooner has recorded as a major-label act, the band tries to get some of that pomp into the music itself. In the process, they dig up a handful of catchy, propulsive, electro-pop gems whose appeal survives the journey into your home: In "Cloud," co-produced by Madonna collaborator Mirwais Ahmadzai, singer Casey Spooner observes that "everything adds up to a truth" -- whatever that means -- over grinding electronic guitars and laser-light-show zooms; "Never Win" is spare, syncopated disco-funk; "A Kick in the Teeth" marries one of programmer Warren Fischer's trademark octave-skipping bass lines to a dreamy synth-pop melody co-written with in-demand hired hand Linda Perry. Not all of Odyssey achieves the crossover that the band is gunning for -- the disc's last half is soggy with hard-drive hokum -- but it's an encouraging actualization of a theoretical pleasure principle.
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Mikael Wood

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