Rob Dickinson

As the singer/songwriter of the now-defunct Catherine Wheel, Rob Dickinson presided over one of the most chameleonlike bands of the Nineties -- exploring everything from shoegazer to grunge-pop to Radioheadesque prog over the course of the band's five proper studio albums. Sadly, his first official solo effort, Fresh Wine for the Horses, finds Dickinson playing it uncharacteristically safe. Perhaps still reeling from the tepid reception of his band's last album, the roundly and deservedly dismissed Wishville, he reexplores the ambitious structures found on 1997's Adam & Eve, albeit to rather dated, dulling effect. And Dickinson's lyrics, which include refrains like "you've just got to smile and hang out with intelligent people," don't exactly help his cause. "Oceans" and "Handsome" provide brief reminders of his songwriting prowess, but Fresh Wine never gives more than fleeting glimpses of faded glory.

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Jonathan Garrett