Picks and Pans Review: Strategem

updated 12/05/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/05/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Big Head Todd & the Monsters

Fresh off the gold success of their slickly produced major-label debut, the Colorado trio retreated to an empty Boulder theater to record this inexplicably misspelled follow-up. Led by singer-songwriter Todd Park Mohr, the group has produced a stripped-down, more personal album that harkens back to their indie origins. The disc's meditative lyrics are brought to life by Mohr's expressive vocals and earthy-blues guitar work. On the title tune he sounds like a Rocky Mountains version of Mark Knopfler as he wearily contemplates the sad cycle of romance: "When love is gone I'll invent again." Even on the harder cuts such as "Neck-breaker," the band restrains the solos to call attention to the emotions expressed. Only the catchy but cliched single "In the Morning" falls short of the band's high lyrical standards. By stepping back from a more commercial sound, Mohr and the Monsters prove that a whisper sometimes gets just as much attention as a shout. Now all they need is a dictionary. (Giant)

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