Groove Armada

Once an electronica act has established an international career, things can get a bit dull if one doesn't take some chances every now and again. Groove Armada, for one, has achieved such a strong reputation for lush Xanax-padded space ballads ("At the River") and uptempo house numbers ("I See You Baby" and "Superstylin'") that they could easily coast off the resulting formulas for years. But apparently GA's Tom Findlay and Andy Cato figured the best way out of the pigeonhole was to play some Skynyrd, as evinced by the duo's foray into rap-laced mullet-rock that is scattered like dog poop across this CD, and it makes for some tough going indeed.

True to form, Groove Armada does turn in a few keepers, notably the disco track "Easy" and its inspiring reunion with Sixties folk singer Richie Havens, "Hands of Time." But attempted funk-rock anthems like "Purple Haze" and "Madder" come off as contrived and disingenuous, and none of the dance-floor cuts generates as much kinetic heat as previous efforts. Occasionally Lovebox hits its groove, but rarely through the course of an entire song. So maybe it's time for Cato and Findlay to lay off the Cheez Whiz and the nu-metal CDs for now.

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Justin Hampton