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Album Review

With a brittle, semi-acoustic, off-center pop sound that I might have pegged as from Down Under (Bats, Chills) were the author's name not attached, former Gang of Four and Shriekback member Dave Allen deconstructs basic pop for intellectuals with The Clutter of Pop, complete with liner-note essays, a Fellini quote, and recommended reading list. Engaging songs and handclap rhythms camouflage the cynical lyrical outlook suggested by such unlikely hit parade titles as "I Feel the Comfort in the Ruin of It" and "The Agnostic Comes Clean." In a seemingly perverse attempt to not completely ingratiate, the sound has a mildly discomfiting lo-fi edge with plenty of odd bits floating around, while remaining steadfastly spartan. In the venerable tradition of Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio" and the Hoodoo Gurus' "Less than a Feeling," one must acknowledge a fine new song that skillfully bites the hand that feeds Allen's "Talk Radio" slips the stiletto between the ribs of today's vacuous commercial bandwidth with such pointed barbs as "when do you find time to breathe?/With that idiot wind whistling/Through the gaps between your teeth..." After a main course serving of ten tracks, the CD concludes with three unnamed, rhythmic instrumental pieces more aligned with Allen's previous Shriekback mode. In all, an album with enduring shelf-life.

The Clutter of Pop, Dave Allen and the Elastic Purejoy
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