September 12, 1988 12:00 PM

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians

There are a couple of flashes on this debut album that are so sensitive, so subtle, so clever, so brainy and so free-spirited it’s almost tempting to hunt down a nice, blaring, mindless squawk of Def Leppard. (Almost.) Usually, however, Brickell and her quartet create a whimsically philosophical pop music that lets her bring off such lines as “I’m filling in the negative space/ With positively everything.” Brickell, 22, was born in Oak Cliff, Texas, a Dallas suburb; her dad, Eddie, a bowling teacher and local pro, and her mother, Larry (maybe that name explains where the whimsy came from), are long since divorced. An SMU dropout, Edie joined New Bohemians, a Dallas band playing ska reggae, in 1985. These guys are the ultimate Texas outlaws; their music has zero connection with country and western. Their spare style does, however, complement Brickell’s jazz-tinged songs, which she doesn’t waste a lot of time in naming: She, Now, Nothing, The Wheel, Circle. Her vocal style has a sweet, ruminating quality, and her lyrics are a medley of disenchantments. There’s the wounded: “Being alone is the best way to be/ When I’m by myself/ Nobody else can say goodbye.” There’s the insecure: “Are you in a bad mood/ Don’t you want to talk about it?…Or are you mad at me?/ Well, it shows.” There’s the gently defiant: “Philosophy is the stuff on a cereal box/ Religion is the smile on a doll.” This is early Patti Smith—Rickie Lee Jones territory, and it’s encouraging to hear people as talented as Brickell and her bandmates rummaging around there. (Geffen)

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