Picks and Pans Review: Sincere

updated 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

MJ Cole (Talkin' Loud/Island)

While the pace of mainstream American dance music has slowed considerably since the glory days of disco, the British have been gettin' jiggy with a variety of uptempo styles, including house, techno, jungle and drum-and-bass. The latest club sound to emerge in Old Blighty is two-step (also known as U.K. garage), which combines elements of all of the above with bits of dance-hall reggae and conventional R&B. This debut collection from London-based mixmaster Matt Coleman is a largely rewarding attempt to launch the phenom in the States.

Originally released last year in Britain with great success, Sincere is a producer's record featuring a laundry list of little-heralded singers. Still, Cole, a classically trained musician, brings a symphonist's savvy to such aesthetic, atmospheric tracks as "Crazy Love," "Hold on to Me" and the eerily beautiful ballad "I See" (featuring the ethereal vocals of Elisabeth Troy). Loosely structured songs like "Sanctuary" and "Slum" King," though, get bogged down in repetitive, synthetic beats. But when "Rough Out Here" injects some real soul with its retro-'70s Superfly groove—complete with a Curtis Mayfield-esque falsetto, courtesy of the group Concept Noir—things really step up.

Bottom Line: Hip-notic

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