Hope Is a Liar, a Cheat, and a Tease

Four reviews of albums that came out fairly recently:

Posies, Blood/Candy – I wasn’t much of a fan of their comeback album from a few years ago, Every Kind of Light, as I felt it lacked zest. I like this new one, though. It has what attracted me to this band in the first place, which is fun, catchy pop/rock music. “The Glitter Prize” and “Cleopatra Street” are two of my favorites, and the keyboard-driven chorus of “Licenses to Hide” reminds me of something. Maybe the Scissor Sisters?

Ben Folds and Nick Hornby, Lonely Avenue – The songs on this were co-written by Ben and Nick, and Nick also wrote several short stories for the liner notes. I haven’t read the latter, though, so they don’t figure into this review. As with a lot of Ben’s work, it took me a while to get around to listening to it, but once I did I enjoyed it. Particularly interesting is the song “Levi Johnston’s Blues,” told from Levi’s perspective and using the “I’m a fucking redneck” bit from his MySpace as the chorus. I have to wonder how much longer the public will remember Levi, though. I knew I’d heard the name Saskia Hamilton, the subject of another song, before, and I associated it with They Might Be Giants. Eventually, I remembered why. She contributed to the McSweeney’s issue for which TMBG did the soundtrack, and John Flansburgh says her name on the credits track.

Nellie McKay, Home Sweet Mobile Home – Her last album was a collection of Doris Day covers, which I enjoyed, but it did leave me wanting more of Nellie’s original material. This album has plenty of that, featuring Caribbean and Latin sounds in addition to her typical jazzy pop, as well as one reggae song. (Too bad I don’t LIKE reggae.) “Dispossessed” and “¡Bodega!” are tracks that stood out on my first few listens. It’s not my favorite of her albums, but it contains the same mix and humor and activist messages that she’s shown in the past.

Belle and Sebastian, Write About Love – I guess this title actually works two ways, since the band name and album title can be read together as an independent clause, but “Write About Love” is also one of the songs on the record. This is a solid album in a style typical of the band, although the only song that really stands out for me so far is the first single, “I Didn’t See It Coming.” Well, I guess that and “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John,” since that’s the one that has Norah Jones performing a guest vocal. It’s not that those are the only songs I like, just that I haven’t thought of the others outside the context of the album.

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