Album review: Crash Test Dummies' 'Oooh La La!'

(Crash Test Dummies - Crash Test Dummies)
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Friday, May 14, 2010


"Oooh La La!"

Kindred spirits: The Handsome Family, Barenaked Ladies, Swans

Show: With Rob Morsberger on Sunday at Jammin' Java. Show starts at 8 p.m. 703-255-1566.

The Crash Test Dummies may be relegated to one-hit-wonder status, based on the success of 1993's "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" relative to the rest of their output. But even so, the Canadian folk-pop group's lead singer, Brad Roberts, still has an instantly recognizable voice.

With such a deeply resonant baritone, Roberts always sounds a bit dejected. On the group's new album, "Oooh La La!," that sadness laces the love song "Heart of Stone" with an air of regret, while his rumbling vocals make "Paralyzed" seem quite literal.

Although there are a few happier tunes on "Oooh La La!," the album's overall lighthearted tone comes from the group's instrumentation, which includes an Optigan, a vintage analog musical toy. Since the Optigan can replicate many instruments, the group employs several diverse styles: "What I'm Famous For" has a whimsical country vibe, while "Now You See Her" carries the drama of the big-band era.

"Oooh La La!" is not likely to add a second hit to the Dummies' legacy, but this quirky instrumentation certainly makes for a group that's enjoying itself.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

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