Freebass: It's a Beautiful Life (24 Hour Service Station)

Even before the release of this album, the high-concept supergroup behind it had already disbanded. The lineup centered on three bass players from influential English bands: Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order; Gary "Mani" Mounfield of The Stone Roses and Primal Scream; and Andy Rourke of The Smiths.

All three played bass when Freebass formed five years ago, but by this album, Rourke was primarily playing guitar. He left the group soon after the recording sessions, while Mounfield and Hook had a conspicuous falling out this fall. While you probably won't see the band play live, this admirable album is still worth hearing.

"Lady Violence" and "Secrets and Lies" sport the same mood of high-gloss degradation as much of Garbage's best material, with lead singer Gary Briggs adding a male presence where Shirley Manson would have been. Briggs' hoarse purr isn't the most distinctive instrument, but he does a workmanlike job and doesn't distract from the music. (The EP Two Worlds Collide, employing different guest vocalists, was released in August.)

The dark psychedelic fuzz-bass in "She Said" struts and broods at the same time; the funky elasticity of "World Won't Wait" recalls Heaven 17; "Stalingrad" has a heady dub vibe (complete with trippy melodica); and "I'm a Believer" (not the Monkees tune) showcases Hook's trademark high-end bass leads. The opening track, "Not Too Late," is a 3 1/2-minute time machine capable of transporting listeners to the carefree new-wave pop era of the 1980s, actually sounding like a hybrid of New Order, The Smiths and The Stone Roses.

FREEBASS - Sampler by sonshine