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The Last Laugh

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  April 18, 2009 12:00 EDT

With a voice as breezy, bluesy and earthily sensual as the United Kingdom's Helena Costas, only a Machiavellian-minded producer would dare mess with the product. Luckily, that's not an attribute associated with Danger Mouse, and in Costas he's found a collaborator as engaging as his Gnarls Barkley foil Cee-Lo. For the most part Danger Mouse lets multi-instrumentalist Costas roam freely amid a thick forest of trip-hoppy electronica, neo-baroque orchestrations (strings courtesy of Italian composer Daniele Luppi) and mossy freak-folk. Populating that lyrical forest are knights, goblins, talking animals and ticking (shades of Peter Pan crocodiles), Costas spinning her offbeat tales like a young Suzanne Vega setting Brothers Grimm fables to music. It's all melodically accessible, from the mandolins and synths of "Lucid" to the jangly guitar pop of "Under the Influence of Jaffa Cakes" to the whimsical, cinematic "The Running Goblin," ensuring that no one will mistake "The Last Laugh" for an excursion into esoterica.—Fred Mills

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