Picks and Pans Review: All About Chemistry

UPDATED 03/19/2001 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/19/2001 at 01:00 AM EST

Semisonic (MCA)

After several years of toiling in obscurity, Semisonic hit it big with the catchy and oddly romantic "Closing Time," a radio and MTV staple for much of 1998. The song helped sell more than 2 million copies of the Minneapolis trio's second album, the surprisingly satisfying Feeling Strangely Fine. This follow-up proves to be another appealing pop collection as guitarist, lead singer and lyricist Dan Wilson and his cohorts, bassist John Munson and drummer Jacob Slichter, add a subtle digital latticework to the solid rhythmic foundations. Wilson co-writes and shares vocals with one of his songwriting heroes, Carole King, for "One True Love," an album standout that beautifully captures the yearning of a young man looking for companionship. From the trusting ballad "Act Naturally" (not a cover of the Buck Owens tune of the same title) and the inviting "El Matador" to the love song "She's Got My Number" and the harder-driving "Chemistry," the trio put on a fine but unassuming display of their considerable pop gifts. Breezy melodies, laid-back guitar work and Wilson's evocative, slightly tortured, Every guy vocals abound.

Bottom Line: Sound science

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