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Lenny Kravitz

Lenny (Virgin)

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Lenny Kravitz deserves a swift kick to the taco already. Though not incapable of a groovy rock tune ("Are You Gonna Go My Way"), the axe-wielding loverman's career remains astonishingly derivative, as if he bought his entire persona at a garage sale. His most popular tunes are bonehead covers, note-by-note Zeppelin riff rip-offs, and cheese-pop moments so horrible, they're not fit to scare away crows.

As if to spite us, however, Kravitz remains incredibly popular, and he sort of leers at us ("I've boffed boatloads of supermodels," the look says) from the cover of his sixth album. His karma has not improved any. Kravitz is certainly following the blueprint here. You get the smokin' riff rocker ("Battlefield of Love"), a rewrite of "Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead." You get Super-Sensitive Guy ballads like "Yesterday Is Gone (My Dear Kay)" and "A Million Miles Away," another Kravitz mainstay frequently rendered here as dopey and unpalatable as a Blessid Union of Souls tune. Then there's "God Save Us All," the requisite "Hands Across America" moment ("Let's get together," etc.), a Marvin Gaye archetype that Kravitz has handled capably before on songs like "Believe." Here, he couldn't possibly sound less sincere. Same goes for Kravitz's "introspective" moments, crowned by the truly disturbing "Stillness of Heart." The supermodel boffer is Lonely and Forlorn in his den of Vice and Sin. The resulting lyrics might compel you to throw furniture: "I got more than I can eat/A life that can't be beat/Yet still I feel this heat/ I'm feeling incomplete/What am I buying?/My soul is crying." Arrrrgh.

If he's got a new trick, it's cheap electro-dance moves. "Believe in Me" busts out the drum machine, the orchestration, the lonely croon -- and winds up sounding exactly like Madonna's "The Power of Goodbye." "You Were in My Heart," meanwhile, T-bones disco to similarly limp effect. He's obviously hoping for a mega-remix club hit here. Swell. Having watered down rock, soul, and blues, Kravitz now conspires to make us feel even worse about disco. Let the '70s die, Lenny, then feel free to follow suit.

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