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The Juan Maclean 

Less Than Human

Wednesday, Oct 5 2005
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On his first full-length as the Juan Maclean, New Hampshire resident John Maclean tries the impossible: making house music palatable to indie rockers. If anyone could do it, you'd think Maclean could. Not only does he have the cred, having crafted some of the most challenging '90s synth-punk as a member of Six Finger Satellite (and scoring a sweet heroin addiction in the process), but he also has the help of über-hip genre-melting producer James Murphy. Unfortunately, the succession of rock-related buzzes and whistles Maclean comes up with -- robotic vocals, clanging cowbell, harsh synths -- doesn't mesh that well with the good-time wavy wave beats and textures. The dance-y tracks come off like blatant remakes ("Give Me Every Little Thing" is A Certain Ratio's "Shack Up"), while the slower numbers feel like leftover scraps from Miami Vice episodes. Save for a couple of moments of visceral sexual healing provided by vocalist Nancy Whang, Less Than Human sounds less than impressive, the work of a dude with a cool record collection and a fancy computer.

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Dan Strachota

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