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The Real Tuesday Weld The London Book of the Dead

Brit musician Stephen Coates has been working on his self-proclaimed "antique beat" sound over several albums, interlocking vintage sources with contemporary electronics. But on his third full-length for Six Degrees, the Tin Pan Alley-meets-2007 vibe, though excellent, isn't the focus. That's reserved for the album's wry intelligence. Littered with references to junkies, whores, and the general untrustworthiness of love (Dorothy Parker, appropriately enough, gets invoked on "Dorothy Parker Blue"), the songs combine whimsy and devastation (on the cheery "Kix," for example, Coates sings that "the cheapest thrills/They mean more to me now than you do"). It's a complex voice, bitter and ardent and maybe longing, too, and, like his music, bears a certain timelessness.

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