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Album review

Absentee

The initial reaction on hearing this record is trying to work out who lead singer, Dan Michaelson, sounds like. At first, the lazy comparison is Johnny Cash, but after half a dozen tracks it becomes clear that he closely resembles Bill Callahan of Smog, with a little bit of Micah P. Hinson thrown in there as well. Having gotten that out of the way, it becomes possible to listen to the album properly. Basically, the album is split into two styles – slow paced, and more upbeat. Opener ‘Shared’ is a slow paced track, and is about two lovers just happy to have met one another. The second song, and arguably the best on the album is ‘Boy, Did She Teach You Nothing’, an example of the faster pace which there is not enough of on the album. Lyrically darker, the song laments said boy’s inability to learn from previous relationships, with the line, “But to try and let her have it her own way just destroys all your loving” particularly poignant. Third track ‘The Nurses Don’t Notice A Thing’ contains the best lyric of the album – “Watching fat girls in cafes, eating cake like they’re biting on hand grenades, afraid, but what a taste”. Fourth song ‘They Do It These Days’ reminds me of the Iggy Pop & Debbie Harry version of the Cole Porter song ‘Well Did You Evah!’, which is in no way a bad thing. Although not awful, the remainder of the album doesn’t live up to the promise of the first four songs, probably because the slower tracks considerably outnumber the faster ones. Lyrically honest, unflinching and often humorous, this is a very good, solid album.