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Picks and Pans Review: Maroon

updated 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Webb Brothers (Atlantic)

When your cradle rocks to the tune of "MacArthur Park," you may grow up with a taste for epic songwriting. Case in point: the sons of Hall of Fame songwriter Jimmy Webb (who also wrote "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"). Justin and Christiaan Webb devote their U.S. debut—a previous CD was released in the U.K.—to an ambitious cycle of songs. There are dissolving relationships (the deceptively upbeat, guitar-driven "In a Fashion"), battles with substance abuse (the haunting, hymnlike "All of the Cocaine in the World") and depression ("I Can't Believe You're Gone"). Such dark topics are not likely to work their way into heavy rotation on the radio. But Justin, 26, and Christiaan, 28, who grew up in California and New Jersey and now live in Chicago, turn despair into art with taut vocal harmonies and inventive, textured art-rock melodies. And their lyrics are as closely observed as their father's: "We're the liar's club/ Now we're getting older but we like to think we're young/ And when the lights are low I look as if I'm 21."

Bottom Line: Second-generation, first-rate

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