Kenna

New Sacred Cow (Columbia)

What would happen if the Neptunes carjacked Michael J. Fox's DeLorean and traveled back in time to collaborate with Phil Collins? Well ... Kenna, that's what. On his Eighties pop-influenced debut, New Sacred Cow, Chad Hugo, half of the Neptunes, provides him with some of the year's most infectious production. Hugo's superb handiwork easily taps into the most visceral portions of your musical sensors, causing you to move, sway, and smile.

Recalling a time where the lyrics meant little and the energy of the music was instantaneous and inescapable, Kenna, whose voice drifts somewhere in between Rick Astley and George Michael, sings about things that make no sense, but his pleasant approach overcomes the incomprehensible words. On "Hell Bent," one of the album's many standouts, he sings, "Naked broken/My world is crumbling/And I can't find myself/Or my way out," right before Hugo breaks out a cacophony of Star Wars-esque zaps and blasts, finally closing with a medley of slow piano keys -- great stuff. Other highlights include the repeat button-worthy "Vexed and Glorious" and "Sunday After You."

If you remember a time when Saturday-morning cartoons were actually worth waking up for, then New Sacred Cow is for you. But even if The Gummi Bearsare beyond your memory, buy it anyway; it's so worth it.

 
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