Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard
'Em Are I (Rough Trade)
Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., July 3, 2009
Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard'Em Are I (Rough Trade)
If last year's 12 Crass Songs was the only recording this Brooklyn-based anti-folk-up ever put out, it would've been enough. An acoustic, eclectic, and altogether electrifying interpretation of the UK anarchists' greatest nonhits, Crass proved Jeffrey Lewis in on the joke even when there wasn't any. Now 'Em Are I, arriving in the wake of connubial catastrophe, comes chock-full o' rat-clever rhymes and tinny triple entendres that could've been titled Systematic Death (of the Heart). Absurdly catchy opener "Slogans" has irony-free aphorisms ("Everyone you meet is you, divided by what they've been through"), but what propels both the song and LP is the insistence of Lewis' hypernasal twang and melodic dissonance. "Broken Broken Broken Heart" reserves a spot on every breakup mixtape, while "Mini-Theme: Moocher From the Future" bobbles spacey keys and hayseed guitar as the lyrics wax downright quantum ("The past is just the future that arrived too soon"). Sucks to be you, Lewis, but we're just that into you.