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Maktub

The so-called neo-soul revival sound of the hard-touring Seattle band Maktub sounded more than serviceable on its first two independently released albums. On the group's latest effort, however, things take a decidedly "I love the '80s" turn that is more than a tad disappointing.

Gone is the alluring sound of The Temptations (circa Psychedelic Shack) jamming with Led Zeppelin. Now, we hear baritone singer Reggie Watts channeling, at best, Luther Vandross, and at worst, '80s Brit-pop star Rick Astley.

The title track whips up a cotton-candy rock 'n' soul sound not unlike those worked--and worked over--20 years ago by Fine Young Cannibals and Wham!. It's the sort of tasteful and bubbling lite-funk that you expected to hear during a cocktail party scene on All My Children during the Reagan era.

Worse yet are the power ballad "20 Years," the innocuous blues-rock of "Nobody Loves You Like I Do" and the stadium rock bluster of "Feel Like Another One," which tread a little close to the hair-band territory of Cinderella and Winger. No kidding.

The crunching "Seeing Is Believing" does the job a bit better, and the convincing riffage of "Right to Breathe" and double-time funk breakdowns of "Daily Dosage" each mark something of a return to form.

But, sheesh, with the undercooked pop of "Hunt You Down," Maktub sounds so limp that any 1980s hit by Daryl Hall and John Oates would seem more threatening. Not that I mind H&O, but Maktub is better than this.

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