Ciao, Baby


theSTART have weathered more hardships (near-constant lineup changes, canceled tours, record label ignorance) than most groups. But the core duo of Aimee Echo and Jamie Miller continue to soldier on with new band members and a new label-which is good news for fans of their punkish synth-pop. If previous records almost seemed ahead of their time, the new Ciao, Baby finally sees theSTART sounding completely of-the-moment-even if the album’s discotheque flourishes are plucked straight from 1985. Infectious songs such as “Dance Revolution” and “Blood On My Hands” match goth keyboards and mechanized beats (think the Faint or pre-Violator Depeche Mode) while “Just A Fantasy” sashays with the liquid coos and slinky synths that Goldfrapp have perfected. Echo’s baby-doll voice often calls up Gwen Stefani, which may scare off some, but Baby’s electro twitches and thumping beats-not to mention über-catchy songs-should make fans of Garbage and Nine Inch Nails very happy. (METROPOLIS) Annie Zaleski