See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, April 14, 1999

Same As It Never Was

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Even more of a flight from his avant-garde, wunderkind roots than Bad Timing, Jim O’Rourke’s latest finds the Chicago jack-of-all-musical-trades increasing the level of sophisticated pop in his lush, cinematic arrangements. This record features more of O’Rourke’s singing than previous records, and his voice, combined with his guitar, piano and sensitive ear for session musician arrangements, captures a profound melancholy. Eureka explores arty pop, with echoes of early ’70s Beach Boys, a jet-setty Bacharach-David cover and the split-second fear that the title track is going to turn into that "Hello? How Are You?" song ("Telephone Line" by ELO). The opening track transforms Ivor Cutler’s "Women of the World" into a widescreen epic, with a summer-morning-paperboy-delivery-in-the-suburban-sunshine kind of vibe. Experimental elements do arise on several tracks, as on the O’Rourke original "Movie on the Way Down," which starts off with a couple of minutes of spare, abstract guitar figures and elongated brass drones. At other times, O’Rourke seemingly informs the conducting of his underground Chicago cohorts with analog hints of the skipping-CD, digital-glitch audio art that he so often champions. Moments like these might be hailed as a return to "form," except that O’Rourke’s present explorations of pop forms are so intriguing and masterful. Even with the fleeting experimental flourishes, the sounds on Eureka would fit right in on a Warner-Reprise Loss Leader from the early ’70s, nestled right in with Van Dyke Parks, Ry Cooder and Randy Newman. Eureka is a wonderful exception to the adage that says they just don’t make ’em like that anymore.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit