Picks and Pans Review: Maxwell

updated 07/13/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/13/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

BLACKsummers'night |

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What the hell have people been making love to since Maxwell has been away? Indeed, BLACKsummers'night—the neo-soul star's first album since 2001's Now—shows that his sensual sounds have been much missed. The first of a trilogy to be followed by 2010's blackSUMMERS'night and 2011's blacksummers'NIGHT, this disc finds Maxwell smoothly picking up where he left off, his moves familiar yet still irresistible. Silky vocals (that toe-curling falsetto intact) and sumptuous arrangements (cue the horns) make this one exquisite listening experience, from the hot, jazzy groove of "Cold" to the angel-soft balladry of "Pretty Wings." The only drawback? With just nine tracks over 37 minutes, you want this night to last a little longer.

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