The latest album from Hooverphonic is mysteriously unavailable in most of the world at this point in time (October '02), with no American release in site. (Amazon U.K. doesn't even have a listing for it). Of course, SONY Music, the ones most likely behind the meatheaded decision to release the album only in non-English-speaking areas of Europe, has simply forced me to diligently find and download the entire album over the internet, whereas given the choice to simply buy the album, I would have done so. Well, at least I can report on the album. Hooverphonic continue to veer away from the cool, experimental trip-hop they forged on albums like "Blue Wonder Power Milk" (my favorite!) to the more pop-inflected, mass-appeal sound of their last release "The Magnificent Tree". "Hooverphonic Presents Jackie Cane" is a concept album of sorts, revolving around the fictional character of Jackie Cane, who actually first popped up in a self-titled song on "Tree". In fact, the album itself often sounds like a soundtrack to a movie, highly-orchestrated, and often bright and cheery (not exactly a hallmark of Hooverphonic past), as evidenced on the new single The World is Mine. Thankfully that song has turned out to be my least favorite on the album, and while this is not the direction I'd hoped they'd take with this new release, there's still enough of the "old Hoover" in songs like Shampoo and One that helps me to overcome the blandness of piano-and-vocal songs like The Kiss and Last Supper. Hooverphonic has had the ability to write some of the most unique and stirring music I've heard over the last several years (who else but Hooverphonic could write something like Renaissance Affair or This Strange Effect??), only to now aim for the dreaded "larger audience" as a way to success, and in the process, let their seamless blend of experimental melodic trip-hop become their footnote. A good album, by a band who could easily have done better.