On its sixth full-length, due for a Sept. 29 release, this Chicago-based combo continues to juggle eccentric art rock, grimy blues and pop songcraft in unusually affecting ways.
The duo of singer-bassist Billy O'Neill and organist-singer Ig (aka Iguana)—assisted by utility players—have created a disarmingly emotional statement of 10 songs that explore the struggle and strife of day-to-day living. Although the first few songs focus on pain and heartache, the work concludes with hope that love will prevail. "It's gonna be a little tender for a while, but we'll get over that," sings O'Neill in the closing track, "Strangers on a Train."
Most of the tunes wrap almost-pedestrian lyrics in elegant melodies, granting the work a sly, plainspoken artfulness. Although the group's past work has been compared to acts as diverse as The Cars and Frank Zappa, this album adheres to classic Beatles-like pop, with occasional doses of distortion and dissonance.
The gorgeously mopey "I Don't Think It's So Funny (How Time Slips Away)" sports a baroque space-rock sensibility, while "Baby, Dream" alternates between wistful longing on the verses and galloping energy on the choruses.
A cover of The Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another" is an ideal match for the band's quirky sensibilities—heavily leavened with a background of electronic noise, it retains an adorable new-wave bounce.