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Album reviews: The Killers, Moses Sumney, Wyclef Jean [The Philadelphia Inquirer :: BC-MUS-ALBUMS:PH]

The Killers

"Wonderful Wonderful"

(Island (ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)1/2)

The Killers have been away nearly as long as LCD Soundsystem, but there's strangely little urgency surrounding "Wonderful Wonderful," their first album in five years. Brandon Flowers and Co. led the wave of synth-dependent bands who've dominated alt-rock for the last decade, but it's their sheer goofiness ("Life to Come" implores us to "dropkick the shame") and knack for dynamite singles, not their albums, that's ensured their place in the pantheon. "Wonderful Wonderful" is their most anonymous effort since 2008's "Day & Age," which is unfortunate, considering its two standouts: "The Man," an excessively silly Miami Vice-style theme song (the cash-register noise!), and "Run for Cover," which targets the Trumpocalypse more explicitly than anything on the LCD record, rhyming "progenitors" with "senators" and "apology" with "toxicology." Both are singles. - Dan Weiss

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Moses Sumney

"Aromanticism"

(Jagjaguwar (ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)(ASTERISK) 1/2)

Los Angeles songwriter Moses Sumney's talent has been teased on a series of EPs, singles, and festival appearances over the last few years, and it comes to full fruition on "Aromanticism," an 11-song collection that takes its title seriously. If 99 percent of pop songs revolve around romantic love, Sumney is happy to be among the 1 percent. On the spoken-word interlude "Stoicism," he recalls being dropped off by his mother as a child and having his "I love you" returned only with "Thank you." And on "Doomed," the centerpiece of the asymmetrical, quietly beautiful album, the singer - who grew up in Southern California and Ghana and who has toured with Sufjan Stevens and Karen O and contributed to Solange's A Seat at the Table - employs his delicate, seductive falsetto to ask: "Am I vital if my heart is idle? Am I doomed?" Based on "Aromanticism's" artistic accomplishments, the answers would seem to be yes and no. - Dan DeLuca

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Wyclef Jean

"Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee"

(Heads Music/Legacy Recordings (ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)(ASTERISK))

Twenty years after his multiplatinum, multinational, multigenre "The Carnival," the Fugee soloist who isn't Ms. Lauryn Hill returns - not a minute too soon - to reap the rewards of a scene that appreciates harmony-filled hip-pop and the funky, future-forward intrigue of DJ Khaled, D'Banj, WizKid, and Davido. Add Young Thug's torrid track "Wyclef Jean" to the pileup, and it's a real love fest for the Haiti-born, Newark-raised soul-sonic force. While the snazzy, jazzy "Fela Kuti" finds Wyclef showing off his own brand of Young Thug-ish tribute to a respected hero (to say nothing of Wes Montgomery-like guitar chops found also on the breezy "What Happened to Love"), the Afrobeat vibe born of the first "Carnival" can be found, anew and renewed, on the hop-scotching "Double Dutch" and the woeful "Warrior." Even the Southern-influenced "Trapicabana" merges "Le Chic" with the Afrique. As far as what's being said within its walls, "the refugee" as a historic subject is significant. It often feels, though, as if Wyclef lets too many kitchen aids (e.g. producer Super Mario, singer Emeli Sande, comedian D.L. Hughley) in on the bouillabaisse, and the merrily messy music gets muzzy and wonkily unbound. Still, if it's Wyclef at the front of the "Carnival" cruise conga line, preaching his prayer of Marleyesque "one love," it's fine. - A.D. Amorosi

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