Look Around
by Anthony Rapp, pop/alternative (2000)
Paigow, ASIN B000056B9O

Don't expect loud, bombastic Rent II from Anthony Rapp's debut solo effort Look Around. He may be the first and some say essential Mark Cohen in Rent, but musically, the real Anthony Rapp is a mix of REM and matchbox twenty.

The first track, Living Alive soon sets the atmosphere - this ain't no post-Rent party, this is a raawwwk-party. Less heavy that fellow Rent alumni Adam Pascal's debut, Rapp nonetheless gives a convincing turn as a rock star in tunes like Human Tornado and the title track.

But if I am disappointed that he is hiding his voice between vocal loops and layers, there're ballads to make up for it. Those who have no idea that Rapp is openly gay and is an active spokesperson for teen GLBT issues will get an eye-opener in the track Just Some Guy, which is a playful (if too sweet) tribute to a boyfriend. My favorite ballad and track in this album is the melancholic midtempo Always, which radiates melancholia reminiscent of Mike Stipe of REM's better days. Plus, the chorus is perfect for drunken singalongs when you are depressed and lonely. "Always... always. AL-WAAAAYYYYS!"

I don't know what to expect when I bought Look Around from Amazon.com (those outside the USA and UK, like me, will have no choice but to rely on imports - I should know, I've tried for a year before resorting to Amazon), but I must say it's a pleasant surprise. Look Around has some rough edges that can be polished here and there, but it's a pretty enjoyable album nonetheless. Although I suspect those looking for Mark Cohen's music, and not Anthony Rapp's, will be very disappointed with this one.

Rating: 86

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