Lambchop, Damaged

Lambchop, Damaged

Only listen to this record on a rainy, or at least overcast, day. Seriously: it doesn’t make sense when the sun is out. I’ve tried it, and the lyrical roundaboutness, the pretty but unremarkable musical backing, and the clipped baritone vocal stylings just come off as a stilted joke.

But I’ve listened to it twice on overcast days now, and I’m tempted to think when I hear it on those days that it’s something closer to a masterpiece. The bookends to this album are what hold it together, and probably suffice as a litmus test for the uncertain. “Paperback Bible” is a song that seems to be about shopping for random bits and bobs, and it’s one that is so arbitrary and specific in its details that a casual listen could mistake it for a complete pisstake. But if you’re feeling it, the title truly resonates — it’s the story of a lonely and, well, damaged person who’s holding together their days with whatever they can.

“The Decline of Country and Western Civilization,” meanwhile, might only work if you’ve had the previous 40-some minutes of sublimated tension to explode with disgust, as the narrator surveys pop culture only to dismiss everything repeatedly with “Damn, they’re looking ugly to me.” But the tone is one of self-disgust — a person who can no longer see beauty anywhere. I can’t blame somebody for not wanting to spend this much time with someone this damaged, but Lambchop deserve their kudos for being this self-lacerating, and making music that befits a cloudy day.

(Merge Records -- P.O. Box 1235, Chapel Hill, NC. 27514;; Lambchop --
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, December 14th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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