i know. everything you read up there sounds horrible. some of what i say below may be equally distasteful, but i have to ask you to trust me on this.
listening to this record, i was reminded of what robert christgau once said of debarge :
I know of no pop music more shameless in its pursuit of pure beauty--not emotional (much less intellectual) expression, just voices joining for their own sweet sake, with the subtle Latinized rhythms (like the close harmonies themselves) working to soften odd melodic shapes and strengthen the music's weave.as you might have guessed, the beauty room shamelessly pursuits pure beauty, but whereas debarge's pursuit was vain, el's paeans to himself, the beauty room's pursuit extends outward, to some unnamed helen.
it's v. unlikely music; what i heard right off was the following : steely dan w/o the libido (& hired axes); debarge w/o the narcissism; junior boys w/o the beats; and p.m. dawn, the great lost band of the 90s (which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue given their string of pop hits & radio staples). no, i haven't heard a band so singlemindedly concentrated on reproducing the sublime, at the expense of all else, since p.m. dawn. and by "all else," i mean that this is music that is magnificently winnowed down, no solos and definitely no ego. like love, then, or how love should be.