Somewhere between Bob Schneider's insatiable declaration, "I want you to love me!" on 1990s alternative riffer "Realness of Space" and his broken realization, "I can't change your mind," achingly echoed by Patty Griffin on "Changing Your Mind," lies the local songwriter's central dilemma: Schneider would be all things to all people, and torn between his own stylistically schizophrenic impulses, too often fails to fully realize his talent in any one direction. Whether picking at Scabs, massacring bluegrass, or even funking up Joe Rockhead or the Ugly Americans, Schneider has always burned unproductively eclectic, and while Lovely Creatures suggests potential untapped, it's easily Schneider's most promising output since 2001's solo debut, Lonelyland. "The Bringdown" and "Everybody's Doing It" are smooth pop, ready-made for AAA radio, and the easy-rolling lyrical barrage of "Till Somebody Catches a Feeling," "40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)," and "Your Head Holds Gold. Your Heart Holds Diamonds." are Schneider at his most infectious and (nonlewdly) clever. "Slower Dear" slides suavely, "Bombonanza" and "Tarantula" unload horn-fed mambos, and closers "Trash" and "Bicycle vs. Car" settle out with easy indie pop. Lovely Creatures may not win over Schneider's doubters, but it showcases why he remains an Austin institution.
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