Solex | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Let's all pretend for a minute that we've never heard of sampling and listen to Pick Up (Matador), the forthcoming second album by Dutch record-store owner Elizabeth Esselink, aka Solex. What are we hearing? Gosh, sounds like a skillfully arranged art-pop record. Esselink's building blocks are samples, but really, how different is what she does with them from what singer-songwriters (think Paul Simon or Randy Newman) did in the 70s, holing up in the studio and meticulously refining their arrangements? That said, "refined" isn't a word I'd use to describe this record or the last one, Solex vs. the Hitmeister, on which a certain looseness is part of the charm. Esselink crafts the kind of broken-apart tunes that currently dominate college-radio playlists--cheeky and self-referential (every song on Hitmeister had the word "Solex" in its title), with lots of sonic doodles and keyboards and singsong vocals, as much happy background noise as thought-through statement. At worst Solex's music is merely pleasant, but at best (Pick Up's hooky "Randy Costanza," with its shimmering strings, the Liz Phair-like "Athens, Oh.") it's art pop with--for once--as much pop as art. Cibo Matto headlines. Wednesday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Joe Dilworth.

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