Jacket Full of Danger,
Godspeed! You Black Emperor fans look away now, this ain't for you. With the longest track of the New York troubadour's latest album clocking in at 2.59, this isn't an album for those who enjoy the epics.
Jacket Full of Danger sees Adam Green going back to the Scott Walker/ Las Vegas schtick he abandoned for his last record, Gemstones. And it is back with a vengeance. All tracks have dense string arrangements, occasionally resulting in a schmaltzy sound, especially on "Hollywood Bowl". Also, throughout, Green affects a thick croon much like Walker, to mixed results.
On lead-off single "Nat King Cole" he manages to sound more like Elvis at his burger munching fattest. However, despite these errors of judgement, this is probably Green's best record to date, because he unashamedly embraces the sleaze he hinted at before, but in a slightly more substantial way. Opener "Pay the Toll" is a highlight, with its refrain, "How many drugs does it take to find something to do?". It's a look at the seamy party scene in New York, and shows a new found lyrical maturity. "Novotel" is interesting in a similar way, with lyrics that veer from realism to surrealism, often in the space of one line.
But, being an Adam Green record, there have to be some puerile, adolescent tracks, and they arrive in the form of "Drugs", ("I like drugs"), and "White Women" ("You know I wanna bone you"). The latter, with its big hairy guitars and David St. Hubbins style vocals, sounds like something Spinal Tap would have left off Smell The Glove for being too obvious. The art of euphemism seems to be lost on Green.
Other variations on the sleazy Vegas formula fare better, though. "Vultures" is buoyed by a gentle keyboard melody and is a pleasant interlude. "C-Birds" is one of the highlights, driven by acoustic guitar chords and augmented by monk chanting and a shredding guitar solo, it is musically, the most bizarre thing Green has recorded, and incidentally, one of the best.
However, most tracks stick to the same hackneyed arrangements, and are only saved by Green's occasionally incisive lyrics, "Jolly Good" being a prime example of this, the line "Never gonna see the outline of the stars" evokes the polluted hellhole of Hollywood better than most have in an entire song. Closer "Hairy Women" is a rather suspect rallying cry for unattractive women to be accepted (this comes from a man who wrote a song about the correct way to, er, romance a girl with no legs), claiming he's "embarrassed by injustice that shuts doors on hairy women". It's a nonsense lyric, but it's good, unclean fun, much like the rest of the record. Jacket Full of Danger is an intriguing album, flawed but fitfully brilliant. This record is a further improvement on his previous efforts, so let's hope he can improve further still and realise the full potential that we only catch glimpses of on this LP. Then maybe he can succeed where the likes of David Hasselhoff have failed by being big outside of Germany.since their smash hit '
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