20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Dan Black’s Un by Marc Sollinger
February 16, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dan Black creates enjoyable, poppy fun on Un

PREVIEW: VISIT Dan Black’s MySpace
: 14/20

Dan Black makes pop music.  With that in mind, Un is an album of pure, sugary, exuberant, pop music.  Yet it is intelligent at the same time. Un is pop you don’t have to feel guilty listening to.  And it just so happens that it’s really, really good.  No, Un is not a perfect album. It’s not even a great album. But it is one of 2010’s most fun and enjoyable recordings thus far.

The music on Un is fairly simple.  Black re-imagines contemporary hip-hop and R&B, and gives them an epic, electronic sheen. In essence it sounds as if The Postal Service listened to a lot of Jay-Z, with a little bit of jj thrown in.  There’s also a funk/dance-floor influence, especially on songs like “Yours” and “Pump My Pumps”.  But although Black does wear his influences on his sleeve, Un’s sweeping electronic arrangements, and his wonderful, perfectly pitched voice make it a breath of fresh air.

The songs “Symphonies”, “Cigarette Pack”, and “Life Slash Dreams” are the real standouts above the rest. “Symphonies,” in particular possesses the universal appeal to be a hit.  And although the lyrics found on Un aren’t particularly deep or insightful, Black has a great sense of rhyme and meter, resembling a bit of a non-rapping Kid Cudi.

In fact, the most notable problem (other than an ill-advised sample that nearly ruins “U + ME =”) with the album is that Un fails to really stay with the listener.  As fun as it is, Un doesn’t leave anything particularly memorable, besides a general sense of well being.  In spite of that though, Un is still an enjoyable ride– a fine-tuned collection of pop energy.

— Marc Sollinger

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