Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Listen up, dancing queens: Get off your rocking chairs! You're sleeping on the new Cyndi Lauper CD! For those of you not in the know, Bring Ya to the Brink is her first full-length U.S. release of original material in 11 years (hmm...that must be the magic number these days, as the Verve will make their comeback in August a decade plus one year after releasing their last studio album, Urban Hymns), and in a sense, it's Lauper's Confessions on a Dance Floor. This is the kind of record Madonna shoulda woulda coulda made as her Confessions follow up if she were as smart as she seems to think she is. Brink was created with strobelights in mind, but it's equally enjoyable by candlelight, moonlight or even if you're just dancing in the dark.

Apparently, the public wasn't exactly dying for a Lauper club-queen reinvention, as the set peaked at a lowly No. 41 on the Billboard 200 album chart after its May 27 release. In comparison, one week earlier, Donna Summer's return 17 years after her last studio album hit No. 17. But don't believe the lack of hype. Brink is the best of Lauper. Her sly, almost whispered vocals on the jittery, percussive album opener "High and Mighty" hints at Bjork, who, come to think of it, probably learned a thing or two from Lauper, while the Bassment Jaxx-produced "Rocking Chair" has an electro-Calypso swing.

But Brink's real money song is "Lay It Down," co-written and co-produced by Lauper and Andreas Kleerup, the guy who worked with Robyn on her 2007 U.K. No. 1, "With Every Heartbeat." Like the Robyn-Kleerup collaboration, "Lay It Down" is more mood music than full-on dance party, wearing shades of misty blue as Lauper's hypnotic, melancholy vocals float over an electro groove that sounds like the soundtrack to a science-fiction romance. So far Epic has released the more traditionally club-ready "Into the Nightlife" and "Same Old Story" as singles. Both, particularly "Nightlife," with it's anthemic rush of a chorus, are excellent, but if the label's powers that be are smart, they'd put "Lay It Down" on their release schedule pronto. U.S. radio is probably too stuck in R&B la la land to appreciate its merits, but it would no doubt take Lauper straight to the Top in the U.K.

Hello! Is anyone listening?

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