The Handsome Charlies

Record review

Texas Platters

The Handsome Charlies

Gentlemen Never Tell (I Eat Records)

Bands rise and fall on poker faces, going to great lengths to avoid being accused of trying too hard. Discernible effort flirts dangerously with being uncool, and the ladies certainly don't like that. So, for Austin's Handsome Charlies, the challenge is maintaining their carefully crafted suit-and-tie posture when the jeans-and-sneakers band within clearly wants to come out and play. Lead singer Sam Lipman's Australian roots are evident both vocally and structurally; most songs coast on jaunty chords and peppy rhythms like Squeeze. Lipman also handles the horn charts, playing all the necessary instruments himself, adding mystery to the lush "Eyes" and brassy oomph to out-and-out pop numbers like "Makes Me Love You." The same dynamic arrangements that make "Queen of Rock & Roll" such a gooey glam-rock treat step in when Lipman and Hamish Johnson's guitars threaten to get lost amid the dizzying astral projections of Radiohead or Coldplay. Instead, the Handsome Charlies know exactly when to wink, when to sigh, and when to step on the fuzz pedal. How do they know? Uh-uh, Gentlemen Never Tell.


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