You’ll be hard pushed the rest of a year to hear an album sounding so rough as a bear’s arse and yet so witty, sharp, instantly humable and loveable. ‘It’s the ones who’ve cracked that the light shines through’ is the follow up to last years prized ‘The last time I did acid I went insane’ long-player, and sees the New Yorker continue his sometimes caustic, often wildly chaotic, occasionally misunderstood (check out ‘No LSD tonight’) yet always memorable analysis of himself from inside his comic book world. As the main himself says in the accompanying cartoon strip press notes ‘the new CD includes all nine chords that proved so popular on the 2001 album, with two additional bonus chords…’
This time aided by his kid brother Jack and Anders Griffin, Jeff manages to come across as the kind of person who would keep parties entertained with his self effacing style and sounds truly proud that his whirlwind three minute one man and a guitar scripted brief cartoon stories are able to find loving homes somewhere out there. As for the man himself, friend of the Moldy Peaches, a comic book artist who completed his senior thesis for a Literature degree on the comic book ‘Watchman’ and heralded rightly so in well connected circles as the saviour of anti folk.
Sounds to anal to be good eh?
Truth is, it is, because Jeffrey Lewis combines the same neuroses, humour and stripped song-writing delivery that you’d rightly expect from the likes of Louden Wainright III, Jonathan Richman and Michael Shelley. Take the opening cut ‘Back when I was 4’ set to a gentle acoustic strum, Lewis documents an imaginary lifetime from 4 to 128, retells how his career was rediscovered at 63 got his first dog, at 87 while his grandson was 11, his goldfish and sitting on a milk crate at 128, the lyrics are subtle sarcasms yet swept up with such dead panned delight that you can’t help raising a smile. You’ll prickle with embarrassment at the goofy bits on the album in particular ‘No LSD tonight’ a kind of straightening off the record and built around such a monotone beat that you’ll find your leg tapping wildly without permission. Then there’s the nasally cheesed off words of warning of the pit falls of the corporate entertainment machine on ‘Don’t let the record label take you out to lunch’. ‘Texas’ kicks arse big style, rampant, dislocated and noisy with it. ‘Sea song’ sounds as the title suggests, like a sea song, sea shanty melodies which sounds remarkably like Archer Prewitt, with what is meant to sound like I suspect seagulls in the background, but sounding like the same creaky door favoured by Black Heart Procession.
Up to this point your beginning to wear the record, it’s feeling nice and comfy, your getting more relaxed and in the spirit of things and then, pow! Out of nowhere comes the crunching vibes of ‘Arrow’ starting off with its quickly spoken lyrical delivery and the acoustic wiliness’ that recalls John Fahey on speed before plugging in and cranking it up to let hell loose for a Sonic Youth moment. A life misspent watching dodgy zombie movies manifests itself in the anti living dead protest blues of ‘If you shoot the head you kill the ghoul’.
Recommended? Aw come on do yourself a favour and find out for yourself but just in case you do need a clue, THIS ALBUM IS GREAT. Okay?