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Jack Allsopp must feel at least slightly aggrieved. The 31-year old Londoner has been releasing material since 2002 - but his debut album The Outer Marker was overshadowed by Golden Boy of the time Mike Skinner, and his similar Streets sound. Now, with ubiquitous chart hit Starz in their Eyes finally seeing him hit paydirt, he has to share his success with comparable contemporaries Jamie T and Lily Allen. It's a tough ol' business. He can't really complain, though; that aforementioned hit, all rolling drum beats, dinky guitar riffs and summery pop-dance crossover choruses has at least given his second album, Overtones, a kick both up the arse and the charts. Starz is unquestionably the best track on here, its scathing attack on the frivolity of fame culture ringing uncannily true ("Remember they said you'd show them all / Emphasise the rise but not the fall / And now you're playing a shopping mall"). Yet Allsopp just about manages to prove that he's far from a one-trick pony, too, with the likes of opener Writer's Block (a warm, funky, sample-heavy gem), the languid, De La Soul-esque hip-hop of Glory Days, and Lost's off-kilter, fuzzy synth rap. He's got just as clever a turn of phrase as Skinner, too; and although he's nowhere near as lyrically confrontational, his vignettes of everyday trivialities do raise an occasional smirk ('I know I'm caned / But now I'm feeling able'). Vocally, he possesses a canny talent for rapping, if not singing - in which context his voice sounds sometimes flat. Also, for the several hits in evidence on Overtones, there are several misses; Symphony of Sirens's grimy stop-start din doesn't quite work, and Mourning Morning, one of the several attempts at downbeat acoustic melancholia, is downright boring. Overall, though, it's a decent attempt at a crossover album, and if the Overtones on this attempt aren't ones of genius, they're certainly of potential.
CD Review by Lauren Murphy
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