Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tanglewood Numbers

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2005 at 12:00 AM

In the four years since the last Silver Jews release, reclusive leader David Berman has weathered a suicide attempt, kicked the habit, and assembled a veritable Drag City lovefest (Will Oldham, Azita Youseffi) for the Jews’ latest, and lushest. (Pavement alums Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich return to round off the star-studded cast.)

So those seeking an encore of Bright Flight’s sparse indie honk will be bewildered by the strident guitar stomp on album-opener "Punks in the Beerlight." Its immediate high descends into more familiar, Southern-fried territory, and guitars, violins, banjos and keyboard skronks shimmer atop countrified sing-alongs.

And while the music has gracefully matured here, the cleaner production makes Berman’s whimsy cloying at times. His lyrics have veered from esoterically cryptic to cheeseball: "I’d rather live in a trash can/Than see you happy with another man." This album is perfectly adequate, and the music is comforting — the Jews are masters of indie-fied country-lite — but it ultimately leaves you hungering for something more.

Monica Price is a Metro Times editorial intern. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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