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Sean Lennon 

Friendly Fire (Capitol)

No rock-star kid ever made a more endearing record than Into the Sun, Sean Lennon's 1998 debut, a Double Fantasy for hipsters produced by his Japanese girlfriend, Cibo Matto's Yuka Honda. Taking cues from Tropicalia, cocktail jazz, and '90s art-pop, Lennon's lounge-adelic take on the sounds of the British Invasion didn't rock much, but it wasn't easy listening. This album is easy listening. Which is not to say it isn't brilliant. Several tracks recall the melancholy popcraft of Elliott Smith at his most Lennon-esque, whether making the most of an aching falsetto on the richly textured waltz of the opener, "Dead Meat," or hanging a notion as dark as "Everyone is born to die" on a breathtaking "Magical Mystery Tour-worthy melody. It's not a happy album, as it's fueled by heartache, fatalism, and regret, but like his dad, Lennon offsets all that pain with a natural gift for melody. There's no sign of the youthful exuberance in which he dabbled on Into the Sun. But he's traded it in for a sense of cohesiveness and purpose. Now would someone get him laid? — Ed Masley


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