It has taken seven years for Jill Cunniff's solo debut to emerge from the wreckage of her old band, Luscious Jackson, but it's the most assured and complete album she's ever released. City Beach feels like an older, wiser counterpart of LJ's Fever In, Fever Out. It's full of infectiously danceable pop with an urbane air, veering easily from the funky, horn-fueled Euro-dance of "NYC Boy" and the plush lounge-pop of "Apartment 3" to the Blondie-copping of "Love is a Luxury." The arrangements throughout, no matter where Cunniff is drawing from, are energetic, well-constructed and pretty much irresistible. This is a summer record, just in time for spring. But it also reaffirms the woman-forward confidence that her work has always promoted. "Exclusive" takes on the perennial commitment-phobic male with a smart, Hot AC feel that recalls Aimee Mann, only more limber in the hips; "Future Call" suggests Daft Punk doing bossa nova as Cunniff coos a seductive rap and threatens to tear down the shopping malls; and "Eye Candy," an album highlight, is a barnstorming could-be chart topper best described as the realized version of what Liz Phair must have had in mind when she contracted the Matrix a few years ago. Welcome back, Jill.
Chris Parker writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.