Dirty Vegas

Capitol Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The self-titled debut record by the UK trio of Dirty Vegas was pure electronica-trance, but without the pain of a whole album sounding like a 50-odd minute of one monotonous beat-structure repeating itself, and not going anywhere. The band's style of including interesting bits of guitars and hoarse vocals (that'll better suit a grunge band) amid the hard-core electronica backdrop gave their debut record a tasteful appeal that made it stand way above most other albums of the same genre.

Dirty Vegas' second effort One is prominently non-electronica: studio drums have replaced the bass-ridden heavy beats of trance; real acoustic and electric guitars have taken over the role of synths; real bass-lines are played on actual guitars, and not on keyboards; and, humble orchestral arrangements decorate humble love songs, that don't seek to be thrillingly fast-paced. Also, unlike a trance record, each of the ten numbers on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 One has the singer (Steve Smith) singing -- that too, without any synthesizing effects added to his vocals.

So, does this mean disappointment for those of the opinion that the debut album should've had more of the seven-odd synth-spewing minutes of "Days Go By"? Well, it does -- and a really big one. One has nothing remotely close to "Days Go By." As a matter of fact, the band itself, on this album, sounds like real musicians playing real music instruments, and attempting an attractive pop record, without intentionally wanting to give it the 'dance-club' appeal of their debut effort.

One is an album, more human, and less robotic. The album gets its zest, not from crazily pounding techno-beats, but from beautifully interwoven guitars. This is one of the 'love' records, that does not cry or cadge, but is still sensitive. It has song-titles like "Roses,""Human Love,""Given You Everything" and "Save Me Now," and the lovelorn moods of the album sound as piquant as the happy ones.

The first few seconds of the album (and that of the opener "Rose") start off with an enchanting guitar-riff, and build up into a heavenly song of the most charming guitar-work that a bunch of DJs (or a bunch of rock musicians) could come up with. This musical quality is maintained consistently throughout the album.

The first single of the record and one of the album's best songs "Walk Into The Sun," with the solo and the jangling acoustic guitars, has the semblance of Electronic's "Get The Message.""Human Love," another album standout, has a guitar-arrangement to the effect that it sounds like a fantastic cover of an unknown U2 song (from their The Joshua Tree days). The slower, and prominently orchestra-laden songs "Closer" and "Save Me Now," sound most unlike 'Dirty Vegas': tender emotional love-songs that ex-'Verve' front man Richard Ashcroft would be expected to come up with.

One is a perfect example of irony, when it blesses: a hard-core techno band churning out a record of near-perfect guitar-melodies. This shocking change of sound by Dirty Vegas may loose them a few old fans (expecting another 'dance-floor' album by the band), but will without doubt, earn them many more new ones.

Rating: A-

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© 2004 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.