Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Cass McCombs

ALBUM PREfection

Cass McCombs is as elusive as he is enigmatic. There is nothing straightforward about PREfection, it’s music that defies genre pigeon-holing. It glitters of Manchester, the Smiths, the Fall (Equinox), Morrisey (Sacred Heart) and of a less poppy Hour of the Bewilderbeast. It bursts forth with lyrical intelligence and complexity, not many song-writers get away with lines like “Semper Fi, E. Plurbius Unim”. It could be “old weird Americana” but it’s more like the Flaming Lips producing Pete Wylie. The highlight is Sacred Heart, constructed with quasi-religious imagery, a pure melody and backed with shimmering guitars and huge reverbed drums. Its climatic verse to chorus crescendo accompanies the obtuse lyrics. It’s dreamlike and desolate, his voice ranging from mumbles to pitches of intensity. Cuckoo, a song unsurprisingly about a clock, and City of Brotherly Love are blissful ballads, with brushed snare and swirling organ. While Equinox is the tale of a whore’s wedding, Cass plays the troubled romantic. The reverb-shuddering guitars and swooping vocals lend the record a timeless feel. There’s some southern gothic (Bury Mary) and shuffle numbers thrown in for good measure, creating an intriguing and complex album full of strange narrative and memories. It’s not immediately accessible, but rewarding for the adventurous.

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