Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminals' Starvation League

Record review

Phases & Stages

Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminals' Starvation League

From the End of Your Leash (Bloodshot)
Bobby Bare Jr.'s last album had everyone who heard it falling all over themselves with praise. There was a vocal minority, though, who found it whiney and self-indulgent. From the End of Your Leash is likely to avoid such a split, especially for fans of Bare Jr., the band, as Bobby strikes a middle ground between the lonesome howl of his solo work and the over-amped brawl his band induced. The tipping point this time is that he's constructed melodies and stories that, while typically off kilter, strike deep. Bare jumps from rock to country to soul to pop and back, all the while retaining a snot-nosed attitude and degenerate sense of humor. Very few (Morrissey comes to mind) could sing "Valentine" and make it sound completely normal. With assistance from Will Oldham, labelmate Paul Burch, and members of Lambchop and the Jesus Lizard, End of Your Leash maintains a slyly sparse sound, filled with just enough quirky instrumentation that it never comes across as overproduced. Take a listen to "Let's Rock & Roll," which doesn't. The focus is on Bare's lyrics, which never falter far from his favorite subjects – rejection, revenge, and downtrodden humanity. "Your Adorable Beast," from whence the album's title comes, illustrates this best, since we're never sure if he's talking about a dog or himself. Most telling, however, is a Shel Silverstein cover, "Things I Didn't Say," which fits in perfectly with the rest of Bobby's world-view and offers a shrewd glimpse into someone who's an immense influence. (Bobby Bare Jr. plays the Parish Thursday, July 15.)

*** 

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