Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

P.M. Dawn: Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry For Bringing You Here. Love, Dad

KRS-One used to pick on P.M. Dawn, although his reasons for doing so are difficult to discern. Maybe, perceiving the duo as too mainstream, he was trying to keep hip hop safe for his own vein of tough, street-smart material. But that's as if Luther Vandross had thought to attack Prince in the '80s. Sure, they both have the same sort of musical origins, but the music they made might as well be from a different stratosphere. P.M. Dawn continues its increasingly eccentric path with its excellent new album, a sure winner for the year's most depressing title and a strong contender for one of its most interesting recordings. The hip-hop rhythms are still here some of the time, but leader Prince Be has long since taken his songs somewhere else. A snaky T. Rex guitar guides "Art Deco Halos," for instance, helping to create one of the catchiest songs on an album that's not exactly lacking in well-crafted tracks. "Being So Not For You (I Had No Right)," "I Hate Myself For You," and "Hale-Bopp Regurgitations" all glide with a soul-pop confidence and instrumental and harmonic complexity reminiscent of early-'70s Marvin Gaye. Though the music and production would be notable on their own, Be's lyrics further set Dearest Christian apart. Inspired by the birth of his son, he sounds like a man struggling to rekindle hope. "I had no right bringing you here / Knowing what I know, feeling the way I feel," he mournfully intones on "Being So Not For You," but there's something in the music that hints at a way out. The ambitious, shifty "Untitled" suite closes an album that packs more genuine angst into its hour than a hundred self-indulgent, black-clad rockers will muster in a lifetime. "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" may have cemented P.M. Dawn in the minds of many listeners as a novelty act, but Dearest Christian confirms the group as one of the most extraordinarily novel acts around.


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