Crooked Fingers Dignity & Shame

[Merge; 2005]

Styles: indie rock, pop music, singer-songwriterliness
Others: (Smog), Jim White, Bloc Party

"Twilight Creeps" starts off with the words to the Velvets' "There She Goes," only chased with this delicate little acoustic guitar line and a short-legged piano snapping at the heel of the vocals. It's got that stuff the kids are calling a melody these days. Apparently you need them if you've got feelings, and boy has this Eric Bachmann got those. He's for real. For sure. That's 100% gen-U-ine heartbreak I'm listening to right now, not that forced songwriterly emotion lite you sometimes get. As Michael Stipe says, everybody hurts sometime. And he should know because he's DEFINITELY for real. Or at least as real as Eric Bachmann. Or something. Whatever.

Point is that this song that starts out making subtle steals that you hardly even notice (true) due to the delivery and arrangement (probably), only it turns out that there's this girl (could be that girl, or any girl, or a guy if you feel like empathizing and that's where your fancy takes you) who some guy used to love, only this girl (alt. see above) doesn't like him so much any more. Which is what pretty much this whole record is about. And folks, Blood On The Tracks it ain't. (Lacks the ability to convey a genuine depth of emotion/avoid cliché/open up the general pataphysical HUMANITY of the situation/come at this (clearly) terrible heartbreak from different angles, thereby sustaining interest.) Still, we can't all be Dylan. Thank god.

It's all pretty inoffensive, (bland) and pretty well what you'd expect from someone who terms themselves as an indie-rock icon, (dubious) and could very well soundtrack various large budget TV shows in the coming months (lucrative). Well ok, if I'm being fair it's not all that bad. There are some pretty decent songs on here, "Wrecking ball", with drunken cabaret piano and Bad Seed bass providing the backdrop for the most psychologically intriguing persona of the record, is pick of the bunch, while "Andalucia" gets almost excitable before launching into a thoroughly pleasant-on-the-ear radio (R_A_D_I_O) chorus. No coincidence though, that neither are steeped in the most tragic end to a love affair in the history of mankind.

This is the fourth Crooked Fingers record (fact) and is "Bachmann's masterpiece" (???). Scaled down masterpiece anyway, having abandoned nine songs and decided not to turn this into a double album. As it is, Dignity & Shame is absolutely the least offensive record you will probably not hear this year (now a Grammy category). So we can all sleep easily in our beds at last safe in the knowledge that Rock & Roll will not, after all, steal your laundry when you hang it out to dry.

1. Islero
2. Weary Arms
3. Call To Love
4. Twilight Creeps
5. Destroyer
6. You Must Build A Fire
7. Valerie
8. Andalucia
9. Sleep All Summer
10. Coldways
11. Wrecking Ball
12. Dignity And Shame