Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Michael Jackson: Invincible [Epic, 2001]
Jackson's obsession with fame, his grotesque life magnified by his grotesque wealth, are such an offense to rock aesthetes that the fact that he's a great musician is now often forgotten. I use the present tense because (a) his skills seem undiminished and (b) as only Frank Kogan has listened dispassionately enough to remark, he's doing new stuff with them--his funk is steelier and his ballads are airier, both to disquieting effect. At 78 minutes this is too long, and especially given his history, "The Lost Children" is offensive. But the first three tracks are the Rodney Jerkins of the year, "2000 Watts" is the Teddy Riley of the past five years, and even the prunables offer small surprises. Don't believe the hype matters. A-