Clem Snide Your Favorite Music (Sire)

Your Favorite Music (Sire)

Clem Snide

Your Favorite Music (Sire)

Morose navel-gazing has never sounded so beautiful. "Your favorite music always makes you sad," sings songwriter Eef Barzelay on his band's major label debut, and if that sentiment resonates with you, Clem Snide may just live up to their album's title. Barzelay's voice is a marvel, a soft-spoken, country-inflected half-whine that doesn't grate; just when you start to wonder what the guy's problem is, he comes on strong, ache and all, with impeccable pop timing. Lyrically, Barzelay plays the naiveté card to the hilt. A creeping nostalgia haunts opener "Dairy Queen," yet the wistful innocence of "I Love the Unknown," "Messiah Complex Blues," the title track, and a sweet cover of Richie Valen's "Donna" doesn't extend to other near-embarrassments such as "African Friend" and "Exercise," a strong case for programming if ever there was one. Still, you have to admire a couplet like, "I'll see you in Heaven if we both get in, 'cause I wouldn't die for your sins." Not the headiest writing around, but enveloped in a gorgeous swirl of melancholy, no one's going to care much. Clem Snide (yet another band to take their name from William Burrough's Naked Lunch) is not a guitar band; there are guitars, but their pastiche is one of subtleties and plodding rhythms. Their sonic weapon lies in the hands of multi-instrumentalist Jason Glasser, whose cello, violin, and keyboards swell to near-cinematic dimensions. If Your Favorite Music evokes the quieter side of another New York area band, the Silos, a dig into credits reveals why. Silos' violinist Mary Rowell lends her exquisite voice to the proceedings. Even the engineer works with a deft touch. For some, it's the ideal summertime album. Crack a beer, lean back, and let Clem Snide make you sad all over.

***

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