Well, the single joke that was The Moldy Peaches may have worn thin pretty quickly…
..(hope they enjoyed it while it lasted) but don’t give up on New York’s
“anti-folk” scene yet.
Kim and Adam from the Peaches have given singer/songwriter/comics artist Jeffrey
Lewis a deserved leg up and this, his second LP, veers from poignancy to hilarity
without losing control. Thankfully Lewis makes his deficiencies charming and resists
the temptation to get too arch.
There are a few self-referential jokey songs towards the beginning, but these
are genuinely funny and don’t outstay their welcome. There’s also
the hilarious “No LSD Tonight”, in which Lewis points out that he
didn’t call his first LP “The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane”
because he likes the stuff. Thereafter the style largely settles down and Lewis’
observations aim at being more accessible: “I Saw A Hippie Girl On 8th Avenue”
is a fine expression of the fear of losing your youth (‘Nowadays I don’t
look much like anything’, he sings).
Sometimes the record is mellow and pretty (“Alphabet”), sometimes
it’s thrashy and paranoid (“Texas”), but the style always enhances
the subject matter. Lewis is a rare breed these days, picking up his guitar not
to strike a pose, emulate his heroes or necessarily break new musical ground,
but to tell you what he thinks or feels about his life and what’s going
on in the world. It’s not that weird an idea. Wasn’t there a time
when that was kind of the point of having lyrics to go with your music?
Returning to opener “Back When I Was 4”, a brief personal history
that reaches Lewis’ current age of 28 and keeps going until he imagines
that ‘Back when I was 63 / The public rediscovered me’. Hopefully
that won’t be necessary.