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Austin Chronicle This Euphoria

APRIL 6, 1998: 


This Euphoria (Lave/Atlantic)

Amidst all the excitement surrounding Davíd Garza's major label debut, somewhere between Atlantic's knowing they landed a charismatic singer with talent to burn (as well as his healthy grass-roots audience and a fertile back catalogue) - amidst all this euphoria - someone forgot one crucial element of any successful album: sequencing. Whereas about half of the 12 songs on This Euphoria have heavy radio rotation written all over them - not the least of them being "Discoball World," which came out last year on Garza's The 4-Track Manifesto EP - sequencing slices this album into two distinct halves: the demos and The 6-Track Euphoria Manifesto. Opening on a strong note (certainly the heaviest), "Kinder" drops Garza's sexy soul cry into a bed of loud, rough-texture guitars and lo-fi hiss. "Step inside my newwww kind of love," beckons Garza through processed vocals, "'cause I'm a nice guy." A 21st-century nice guy, perhaps, because like The 4-Track Manifesto, the sound of This Euphoria is a beguilingly futuristic one - at once intimate and hissy like a four-track home recording, but also smoothly intricate like something produced in a studio by someone who knew what they were doing. In this case, that's Garza himself, producer Dave "Stiff" Johnson (G. Love, Cypress Hill), and local studio wunderkind Craig Ross, all of whom have created a scratchy, sandpaper backdrop against which Garza's romantic pop notions lay languidly. Problem is, the songs don't kick in until exactly halfway through the album, on track six. A completely different mix than what appeared on The 4-Track Manifesto, "Float Away," with its dreamy vocal track and stripped-down, acoustic 'n' snare sound, is one of this album's many euphoric moments. In fact, from that song on down to the closing, blow-away dandelion ballad, "Flower," it's one high after another; "Float Away" yields to the infectious, too-much-espresso energy of "Discoball World," which skips a tune to the terrific metallic ragga of "Slave," the string-y melancholy of "Baptiste," and finally the album's finest meeting of songwriting and hook, "Sadness," an aptly named mother/son elegy. Not only is each and every one of these songs a potential radio smash, they flow together in total harmony. This, unfortunately, is completely and thoroughly at odds with the four tunes between "Kinder" and "Float Away," which aren't exactly filler, but when compared to the album's better half, sound like song fragments. Sequenced around songs like "Slave" and "Sadness," these tunes might not have stuck out, but stacked at the front of the album as they are, they weigh down This Euphoria's natural elation, leaving plenty of tunes that do work, but an organic whole - the concept of an "album" - that's been compromised. Sequencing.

2.5 Stars -- Raoul Hernandez

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