Angry as it might make Aaron Carter and Stephen Barry, it makes more sense to view their group Cirrus as a cyborg than as a production duo. After all, alongside Moonshine label head Steven Levy, the pair have labored long and hard to create the Six Million Dollar Sound within the West Coast breakbeat genre. Using the initial blueprint laid down on their 1997 debut LP, Drop the Break, as their own Steve Austin, Cirrus and Levy have figured that since they had the technology, they could make this sound poppier, faster and better with each release. There's no denying that the music on Counterfeit shines and gleams with all the synthetic beauty of a luxury Lexus crawling right off the assembly line. But no matter how well this model may hug the curves and grip the surface, it still sounds like Formula One.

Of course, not unlike their kindred spirits the Crystal Method, they most likely had this intent all along. Barry and Carter have already licensed tracks from Drop the Break to a slew of video games and dumb comedy films that have used the music as an appropriate aural cue for raucous, wacky fun. And tracks like "Breakbeat Suckers" and "Ghettoblaster" certainly won't let down the studio music supervisors this time around. Since this is an artist album, electronica rules stipulate that Cirrus needs to include a few mellow tracks with female vocals on them, and these are the most interesting of the lot. Newcomer vocalist Laura Derby is a real find, and Cirrus creates the few real musical surprises on Counterfeit around her inspired appearances on "Half a Cell" and "Boomerang." As for the rest of this album, it's best not to look too closely under the hood. The production is impeccable, and Cirrus comes as close as it'll ever get to pop stardom. Other beat breakers, like Hybrid and Starecase, can go it one better by adding real depth and emotional weight to the mix. And unfortunately for Cirrus, that sort of success means throwing out the owner's manual.


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