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Robert Downey Jr.

When Robert Downey Jr. appeared on Ally McBeal, his singing performances at the local watering hole were just the sort of novelty his fans could appreciate--short, sometimes campy snippets that ranged from funny to heartfelt.

Downey's first album, however, falls short of re-creating that magic.

Instead, Downey sounds like he's straining his vocal chords to sound like Creed's Scott Stapp. What happened to the tender melodies and the eclectic charm?

The main fault of The Futurist is that although its tracks start out with promise, they end up in a mushy pop mish-mash that you can't really make heads or tales of. Especially with these gobbledygook lyrics from the title track: "They'll take the walk / We'll sage the world / Sounds like October / A Futurist nose / Our furious, curious, fantasist code."

Downey's piano playing, however, is impressive--particularly on the album's opener, "Man Like Me," and "Kimberley Glide"; its feeling of effortlessness is one that immediately puts listeners at ease. Piano is definitely the musical avenue Downey should pursue.

Most hardcore Downey fans will probably run out to purchase this album, as Don Johnson's did with 1986's Heartbeat. (You remember that little gem, don't you?) The difference here, though, is that despite all his troubles, Downey has always been likable--and that's why it hurts to not like his album. But it was a nice touch for Downey to give us some advice by including the Serenity Prayer: God grant us the strength to accept the albums we cannot change!

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