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Tom Vek

The current round of '80s dance-punk redux has been going on long enough that it's only a matter of time before some bandwagon-jumping latecomers become the chart-topping equivalent of Creed for the skinny-tie set. Happily, 24-year-old Brit Tom Vek shows there's still some life to be breathed into the genre when you're not simply aping old New Order and Cure tunes. With one-man wrecking crew Vek playing all the instruments, We Have Sound makes for an interesting marriage of garage-y indie rock, dance-floor thump, and electronic atmospherics. The hooks of the album's opening one-two combo are impossible to resist: "C-C (You Set the Fire in Me)" layers flanged synth washes, Farfisa organ stabs, and Vek's haunted vocals over loping lead bass and stuttering live drum samples, while the addictive "I Ain't Saying My Goodbyes" trumps anything Franz Ferdinand or Bloc Party has ever attempted in terms of propulsive rhythm and insistent, down-stroked guitar. Though the remainder of the album never matches these early tunes — the moody, infectious throb of "The Lower the Sun" comes damned close — Vek proves himself a solid craftsman in terms of both writing memorable tunes and using studio tricknology to his full advantage.

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Dave Pehling

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