Ivy 

In the Clear

For its fifth full-length album, Ivy has indulged in guitar skronk, herky-jerk rhythms, and yelped vocals. Yeah, right. Who are we kidding? The Manhattan trio -- Parisian-born chanteuse Dominique Durand, her guitar-playing hubby Andy Chase, and bassist-pal Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne fame -- has provided sleek, stylish soundtracks to martini soirees and upscale boutique browsing for a decade now, and In the Clear is more of the sophisticated same. Everything is in its proper place -- even the sorta Sonic Youth-y guitar chimes that kick off "Clear My Head" are the equivalent of mussy hair that took three hours of fussing to get that way. The billowy piano intro to jet-setter anthem "Nothing But the Sky" pilfers a bit of melody from the Cure's "Pictures of You," at least until Durand's high, echoey coo turns the song into a slightly more intelligible Cocteau Twins tune. More often, she applies a slightly lower (but still plenty French-accented) delivery to breezy, occasionally disco-fied pop numbers that could enroll in the St. Etienne/Luna urbane-cool school. All told, Clear is as agreeable as a well-made cafe au lait, and as transitory a pleasure: When it's finished, you just shrug and move on.

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