Remember that episode of Family Guy where Lois starts singing cabaret at Peter’s bar in the basement of their house? Larkin McLean tries to add a few songs to Lois’ repertoire with songs that are simultaneously strong and sultry, such as “Do I Still Love You”. The track is influenced by jazz and the entire lounge movement of the fifties and early sixties, while the production value of the disc allow for current listeners to find some common ground with Larkin. Individuals really have to like this style of music to hear the beauty in McLean’s disc.
The style is specific enough that individuals that are hoping to hear a more current interpretation of popular music will be disappointed. People will be able to hear the strength that McLean’s vocals have on the ten tracks of this disc, but chances are that the jazz-influenced backing instrumentation is simply not full enough to allow listeners the chance to like it. The name dropping during the title track is understandable given the topic of the track, but it becomes annoying during McLean’s narration of the song. When one breaks up the disc into its constituent parts, the beauty of “X-Rated Musical” is much more easy to hear. The vocals are sly and ultimately the key modifier of mood during the disc, while the instrumentation acts as ancillary factors for the modification of this mood. When McLean adds a little more to the admittedly Spartan tracks on “X-Rated Musical”, especially during songs like “Don’t Wake Up” the results are much better. By making that step, however small, towards a more current interpretation of music the better chances there are that individuals into a more current style can find something to like in McLean’s brand of lounge music.
The songs here are not badly written or uninteresting, but really operate in a style that is separate from practically anything else currently on the market. Individuals have no reference to the music that issues forth on “X-Rated Musical”, and only those active fans of Jazz or lounge music will get everything that McLean includes for digestion on “X-Rated Musical”. If a listener is brave, pick up this album and try to hear it as an extension of the styles that make themselves known on the disc. Chances are that “X-Rated Musical” is a faithful extension of the styles that were so big all those years ago.
Top Tracks: Crashing, Don’t Wake Up
Larkin McLean – X-Rated Musical / 2005 Best Day Ever / 10 Tracks / http://www.larkinmclean.com / Reviewed 24 March 2006