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V.I.P. Club: Coconut Kiss

A polished, laid-back effort, The V.I.P. Club’s Coconut Kiss is an easygoing tonic: well mixed and smooth going down, but not particularly distinctive. With grooves laid down (either live or in programming loops) by band-leading drummer Wolfgang Haffner, the majority of tracks here have a slick pop-funk surface, from the tropical funk squishiness of “Simple Life” to the soft boudoir feel of “Into the Light,” which nods toward Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love.” Guests like Chuck Loeb and Jeff Golub lend highlight performances to the soft-brushed, wandering “Far From Home” and the romping “Right On,” respectively, but the focus here is on grooves and solos, rather than memorable melodic structure. Haffner and his band do experiment with varying influences, but capture bustle and bubble rather than grit and nuance. “Miami Beach,” for example, boasts a spiked Latin-drum flavor, but coats it in such pop sweetness that you half-expect to hear Gloria Estefan singing. “Spring-Roll” comes the closest to striking, with its strutting, bluesy feel, but these memorable moments slip away across the album’s efficient, nonstick surface.

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