The collaboration between American musician AM and American-cum-Londoner Shawn Lee has received largely favorable reviews since its showcase at SXSW in 2011. It’s no wonder two artists as eclectic as these would come together to create an album that integrates current music trends with those from forty years ago. The aptly named Celestial Electric is an otherworldly throwback to ‘70s soul melded with the prevailing indie pop inclinations toward recurring synth lines and double tracked vocals. Though the album undoubtedly has its high points, it nevertheless falls flat enough times to keep it from qualifying as a really great record.

Much of what detracts from this record is poor sequencing. The album’s opener, 'City Boy', is an unremarkable song with a tropical feel and enough twanging guitars in the background to be mildly off-putting for those weary of anything slightly reminiscent of country music. The first track also begins a trio of songs that start similarly, each with drum introductions that would be more palatable were they distributed rather than bunched together in the first quarter of the album.

Celestial Electric continues with 'Lonely Life', which introduces another interesting inconsistency, this one pertaining to lyrics. Various lines in different songs strike as unique and resonating; the second verse of 'Lonely Life', contains the lines, "Here to serve you and comply / Let us falter, unionize / Never notice what you find / Tell me stories, tell me lies," which is alluring if only because I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song feature the word 'unionize' before. Other extracts, like "I can’t figure it out, I waited on you" from 'Can’t Figure It Out' and "You and I, forever and after" from 'Different Forces' are poignant in their simplicity. Skip to another part of 'Lonely Life', though, and you're met with the borderline cliché of an affair between strangers which fails to resonate: "I don’t know you / You don’t mind / For the moment / Feel alive." Similarly, 'Promises are Never Far from Lies' is held back by its strange wording and its tired suggestion to "Witness your motive / Every time you need it to get by… / Don’t lose your focus / Promises are never far from lies / Can’t you see."

Despite its occasional lyrical weaknesses, AM and Shawn Lee seem to work well together musically. 'Can’t Figure It Out', 'Dark into Light', 'Different Forces', and 'Winter Sun' are as enjoyable as anything, many of which feature more complex vocal patterns than are found elsewhere on the record, welcome anticipated rhythms and engaging interplay between guitar and piano. The bass also stands out nicely on several tracks and is easily the most captivating instrument on the record. But for every positive aspect, there is an equally negative one. The falsetto in 'Lonely Life' would be appealing if not for the unpleasant portamentos at the end of every phrase; instrumental breaks are drawn out and superfluous; songs such as 'Somebody Like You' include stripped down sections with fewer instruments that sound brilliant, suggesting that perhaps there is too much going on in other songs.

The most significant defect of Celestial Electric is really a result of the combination of its smaller flaws. While it is far from a bad album, there isn't anything outstanding about it, either. I wouldn’t mind listening to it again, but I also have no desire to put it on. It's worth listening to for the interesting bits hiding within the songs, but for all its engaging vocals and dance-promoting rhythms, AM and Shawn Lee don't quite succeed at getting your attention and pulling you in.