Primordial Oo's

Reasons to Be Cheerfully Wistful, Pt. 3

Baxter Dury takes those beautifully ethereal oo's and ah's that you find in the background of old Beatles-Kinks-Floyd records and makes them his foreground. Well, not exactly. He also sings words and main melodies, but in such an ethereal high-pitched voice that they feel like sighs and oo's themselves—especially given that he swamps his voice in reverb and his instruments in tremolo, and further distracts us with fuzztones and electrobuzzes and small dissonances.

Thanks to his recessive delivery, the lyrics on Len Parrot's Memorial Liftbecome something of a Rorschach test: For instance, I can't tell if pain makes Baxter cry or crawl; if I hadn't seen the song title "Gingham Smalls 2," I wouldn't have known he was singing "I am Gingham Smalls" rather than "I am King of Spoons"; "Oscar Brown, we all let you down" comes through clear, though the preceding "Of the fate of primrose here asleep in goo" seems rather an innocuous failing, if that's what he's singing, though I'll bet it isn't. "I'm convinced he's a fatula . . . " (a fat spatula?) " . . . and all the girls, the way they carve" must be an invention of my misperception, as are "They're here to fuck your hair" and "Blue swim terrace face looks down/On a stone to come."

Add toy keyboards, and the whole thing reaches us in pleasing, genial, wistful wisps, though cheerfully wistful wisps, if that makes sense—not that I require it to make sense. Nor does Baxter, I'm sure, since too much sense would mar the LP's air of mild distraction.

 
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