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Utah Saints 

Two (Nettwerk America)

Joining production forces in Leeds, England, just over a decade ago, the Utah Saints (Jez Willis and Tim Garbutt) became industry sample advocates for the burgeoning rave scene with their 1991 self-titled debut, an album that paired rock beats and soaring synths with blatant samples from the likes of the Eurythmics and Simple Minds. Grafting stylish excerpts from other songs such as Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting" ensured that the pair could peddle dance anthems like its early club hit "Something Good." Now, after a six-album record deal fell apart and a follow-up LP was shelved, the Saints have finally issued their second album, appropriately named Two.

Boasting collaborations with bigwigs Michael Stipe, Chrissie Hynde, and Chuck D, Two employs the same smoke and mirrors that these wonder twins perpetrated with their debut. Excerpts from a phone conversation with Stipe provide the vocals for four different tracks, most of which are just filler. One, titled "Rhinoceros," is as pretentious and miscalculated as Stipe, who recounts the plot synopsis from Frederico Fellini's And the Ship Sailed On to a leisurely electro rhythm. The rest of the album relies on a duplicated and colorless blend of breakbeats and downtempo ambiance. "Power to the Beats," the track that features Chuck D on vocals, takes a sample from Metallica's "Enter Sandman" before collapsing into corny tech rhythms with witless, repetitive lyrics. Featuring vocals by Edwin Starr (the guy famous for singing "War"), "Funky Music" implodes with rancor. If the album has any saving grace, it's found in sweet Moby-esque downtempo jams like "Massive" and "B777." But overall, Two is a carbon copy of the Saints' previous effort, replete with obtrusive citations and ho-hum symphonic dance arrangements.

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More by Keith Gribbins

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