Once upon a time, there was this thing called alternative rock. Its sound was muddier and lyrics moodier than the slick, mainstream, power-chord stuff that had long dominated the airwaves. The music was fresh and invigorating at first, but now it's time for an alternative to alternative rock. Which is where Artificial Joy Club comes in.
Sure, there's the occasional murky musical moment in this Canadian quintet's debut disc. However, what sets Melt apart from its peers is the way Artificial Joy Club takes a genre deliberately crafted to sound depressing and gives it heat and passion. Lead singer Sal's sexy, lilting voice is something warm and wonderful to behold, whether loudly declaiming (as in "Psychic Man") or slinkily cooing (as in "Crawl"). Meanwhile, guitarist-producer Leslie Howe adds an undercurrent of melodious funk to the mix. The joy with this Club is anything but fake. (Interscope)