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Though he’s had no shortage of recordings, Mike Viola has always been best known, if at all, as the man behind the curtain, from his work as writer/producer for Mandy Moore to composing songs for music-intensive films Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Get Him to the Greek and providing vocals for the lead singer of the Oneders in That Thing You Do. But the singer/songwriter deserves a spotlight on his work under his own name – cf. his latest record _ Electro De Perfecto_. Demonstrating a singular skill in alluding to his influences (Beatles, Beach Boys, Badfinger, Elvis Costello and other obvious icons) without paying blatant homage to any of them, Viola dishes out – in his John Lennon rasp – near-perfect nuggets of smart pop. The rich melodies and incisive lyrics of “Closet Cutter,” “Soundtrack of My Summer” and “When the Stars Are Against You” bear the stamp of a supreme craftsperson, even as they sound as if they just rolled out of Viola’s brain. Like a lot of artists who put a ton of hard work into making it look easy, Viola is a master of subterfuge, letting the emotional bluntness of “Inside Out” and “Get You Back” disguise the thought put into every second of their creation. Perhaps his strongest work since Falling Into Place, Viola’s notable debut with the Candy Butchers, EDP is a work of timeless pop excellence.
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