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Ivy

Adam Schlesinger is one of rock's most ambitious overachievers. His membership with Fountains of Wayne has been marked by major cultish success, and his penning of the song "That Thing You Do" for the Tom Hanks movie of the same name earned him a pedestal in the power-pop hall of fame. Schlesinger's term with Ivy is the oddball bullet point on his formidable rock résumé. Schlesinger's solid Webb-meets-Bacharach musical backing behind French chanteuse Dominique Durand's cool crooning stands in stark contrast to his muscular, guitar-driven FoW accomplishments.

Everyone involved with Ivy's third album, Long Distance, amps up his or her contributions to create a slightly dense pop atmosphere. The laconic openers, "Undertow" and "Disappointed," hint at Ivy's more aggressive stance, though both steer a course between the two extremes, while "Edge of the Ocean" is a meditative ballad that plays up Schlesinger's gift for melody. "Blame It on Yourself" exposes the band's love of 20-year-old techno-pop, as does the album's bonus track, a lovely re-reading of the Blow Monkeys' "Digging Your Scene."

Although Durand still sings with a wispy breathlessness that skates over the band's seductive coolness, her presence is more palpable here than on the band's first two albums. But Schlesinger and bassist Andy Chase step up on Long Distance, throwing a little more weight into the mix with dashes of drum 'n' bass and flecks of Fountains of Wayne power. The result for Ivy is a satisfying mix of sugared Europop and the kind of breezy rock that has become Schlesinger's stock in trade.

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Brian Baker

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