This Is an Exercise provides more evidence that one's playmates don't necessarily determine one's own character. Anna "Oxygen" Huff's many guest spots on twee efforts from the likes of The Blow, The Microphones, and Mirah don't prepare you for the dancey This Is an Exercise, which is more bionic I Am The World Trade Center than any of the acts listed above. At its huskiest, Huff's voice recalls Linda Perry's (see torch song/future indie karaoke favorite "Hypertension" or the electroclash-lite "Fairy Quest"); at its lightest, it's diva-in-training delightful. In either mode, her pipes are a perfect contrast to the rhythmically ebullient programmed synths and beats supporting them -- backdrops coursing, playful, robotic, and pop basic. A single purple silk thread away from serious litigation, "Fake Pajamas" could be mistaken for a Men Without Hats cover of "When Doves Cry," while the minimalist title track -- with whimpered and whispered singing that mimics the counting of someone performing aerobics, tones chasing each other at micro volume -- would, if elongated, make for a stupendous exercise soundtrack. Then again, as a whole, Exercise kind of is.
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