The Lovely Sparrows
Bury the Cynics (Abandoned Love)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 26, 2008
The Lovely SparrowsBury the Cynics (Abandoned Love)
The Lovely Sparrows' 2006 debut EP was a beautifully brutal confession of broken love couched in lush pop orchestration. It avoided maudlin self-pity largely through Shawn Jones' wry, lyrical wit, lifting even the local trio's darkest emotions with an ironic, playful sneer. Bury the Cynics pivots on the same balance, though its tone is notably lighter, its arrangements much more precise and complicated, and Jones more comfortable in delivering his nasally, Jeff Mangum croon. "I was a wraith for a year or more; I was settling scores," opens "Wraith" with an eerie, delicate ambience, Cynics battling to move beyond the past, however tenuously. The album bounds in any number of directions, Jones reveling in upending shifts of time and rhythm, which cast the songs with an uneven, if effectively anxiety-addled, edge. "Larks and Owls" dances delicately with Lauryn Gould's flute as Jones drops oblique metaphors, recurring tropes and reflexive allusions weaving throughout the songs. "Department of Forseeable Outcomes" moves in easy, galloping swells, while "Teenage Viking" layers rich harmonies atop classical guitars. The penultimate "Devil in the Details" may best reveal Jones' aesthetic: "I've got a feeling that the horse and the rider are the same," he surmises, continually collapsing the distance between futility and hope, one pushing uncontrollably forward, the other drawing back the reins until both are but a blur. Jones makes nothing obvious or easy, but Bury the Cynics rewards a patient ear.