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Dot Allison
We Are Science
Some of those who work with electronics seem to believe that their primary job is to turn on the gadgets, gizmos and whizbangs at their disposal and get out of the way. But Allison, a onetime member of One Dove prior to embarking on a solo career, isn't among them, thank you. She can get slinky, as on the seductive "Hex," but she's at the top of her game when she ups the drama; on "Performance," she manages to construct an entire universe of sonic atmosphere around her ethereal reading of four brief lines. Listeners won't be blinded by Science. Rather, they'll have their eyes opened to a cult figure whose cult deserves to grow. -- Roberts

Future Bible Heroes
Eternal Youth
Nobody writes lyrics like Stephin Merritt, whose work with Magnetic Fields and the 6th's has won him a well-earned following among wry brainiacs, and his latest Heroic effort should add to their number. The wordplay on "I'm a Vampire" ("I am what I am/And I'm impossibly glam") and "Losing Your Affection" ("I would rather be the queen of the guillotine/In a bloody insurrection") is sharper than ever. Adding to the enchantment are the musical backdrops painted by the gifted Christopher Ewen and the singing of Claudia Gonson, whose affectlessness makes her the perfect mouthpiece for Merritt's darkly witty views. Eternal Youth may not live forever, but it will still sound great long after most electro-pop has faded away. -- Roberts

DJ Jazzy Jeff
The Magnificent
Another stellar release from BBE's Beat Generation series, The Magnificent places DJ Jazzy Jeff (who teamed up with Will "Fresh Prince" Smith in the '80s) in the role of musical director. Jeff guides his A Touch of Jazz production crew through a soulful sound that recalls the jazzy melodicism of the Native Tongues and the Large Professor. The DJ reunites with Jill Scott, whose career he helped jump-start, on the hometown homage "We Live in Philly," while an impressive array of other guests -- J-Live, Freddie Foxxx and Raheim -- help The Magnificent shine. -- Mayo

Critics say 18 is a glorified mixed tape, but even so, there's no denying that Moby is the best mixed tape maker on the scene today. Falling into step with 1995's Everything Is Wrong and 1999's Play, this disc is heavy on soul-searching ambient house and electro-rock with bluesy samples. And when he gets his second wind, the bald New Yorker doesn't cut corners with pop and hip-hop blowouts and four-on-the-floor club anthems. -- Lemieux

The Teaches of Peaches
(XL/Beggars Group)
Merrill Nisker was born in Canada and spent time making music in New York City. But it was the discovery of Berlin, the acquisition of a Groovebox and the awakening of a G-spot that brought to life Peaches, the joyously oversexed, decidedly Germanesque diva of the electro-pop movement. Originally issued by the EFA imprint two years ago, The Teaches of Peaches was re-released by XL in 2002 with a bonus disc. Despite its rebirth, the recording remains a lo-gloss batch of no-wave beats, minimalist bombast, self-love and sleaze. For Peaches, the road to redemption is located squarely between her fuzzy thighs. And because she's funny, furious and almost unbelievably bold, Peaches challenges even the most puritan listener to resist her. -- Bond

Pet Shop Boys
The aging Pet popsters have dropped the ennui on the self-produced Release, resulting in their most cohesive collection to date. Britain's smartest electronic band offers emotional ballad rock -- a surprise for fans of their mega-electro roots -- and includes "The Night I Fell in Love," a love song dedicated to Eminem. Will the real Pet Shop Boys please stand up? -- Lemieux

The Streets
Original Pirate Material
Using downloaded samples and a massive set of lyrics, 23-year-old Mike Skinner puts punk rock back into white-boy hip-hop on the omnivorous Original Pirate Material. Whether sweating it out for his dealer or rapping about the vices of city life, Skinner is urban contemporary in its truest form: angry, young and electronic. Not bad for a bedroom recording made in Britain. -- Lemieux

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