Clem Snide

End of Love

Clem Snide frontman Eef Barzelay has always been a decent singer/ songwriter -- you know, the kind who turns a nice phrase, plucks a pretty melody, and warbles in a mournful tone that gets his tunes placed on many a lovesick mix CD. With his band's fifth LP, however, Barzelay has made a quantum leap forward, approaching the ranks of clever eggs like John Prine and Loudon Wainwright. More than ever, he's showing off his fractured funny bone, writing about singing pedophiles, disgruntled Jews for Jesus, hipster girls who aren't as weird as they think, and -- in the most bizarre instance -- Lucille Ball. This isn't a Jack Black yukfest, though; instead, all the jokes serve to add depth and character to the songs (much like the banjo, vibe, and piano colorings do to the pretty guitars). Many are pretty dark -- "If you've never seen a bullfight/ Guess who always wins," Barzelay observes at one point -- but that's just the kind of court jester the altcountry scene needs.

 
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