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Freaks

For British house music duo Freaks (Luke Solomon and Justin Harris), there's something wrong if you're on the dance floor without a smile on your face. And not one of those ironic smiles that says, "Aren't we trendy and retro?" either. They're looking for one of those unconscious wide grins that springs up in the joy of the moment when you catch yourself grooving to something silly.

The Man Who Lived Underground harks back to a time before dance audiences were demarcated along color lines, and its songs drip with the influence of America's black innovators. Rather than coming off like soulless copycats, though, Solomon and Harris exhibit a flair for distinctive and intricate production. George Clinton would surely not be embarrassed to have "Hang Up Your Hang Ups" in his P-Funk arsenal. There are also brief musical interludes that break up the longer songs, more a stylistic (and often comedic) tool of a hip-hop album. Indeed, "Fix It," a commercial parody set to a beatbox and treated horns, could have as easily appeared on a De La Soul record.

This is the Freaks' third album (following 2001's Meanwhile, Back at the Disco) and the first that may potentially interest those outside the dance-music faithful (who already give them props) with its timely combination of funk and spirit. Check out two white boys who actually know how to get loose and don't take themselves too seriously.

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Tamara Palmer

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