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Album Review

Like spiritual brethren such as Chuck Prophet and even the Nick Lowe of old, Ike Reilly creates sharp, dry humored pop/rock that by its very nature, caters to devoted cult followers. He's not trying to alienate anyone, but his music is just too smart, wry, and witty to appeal to a wide, let alone commercial audience. Take aspects of Fountains of Wayne's snarky pop meshed with Peter Case's folk-rock digressions and you're close to Reilly's savvy style. Calling this "thinking persons music" sounds overly pedantic, especially for songs that pulse with a mid-tempo, edgy precision as these do. The lyrically dense tunes do require the listener to pay attention, at least to grasp the intricacies and pointed combination of words that are sometimes funny but more often reflective of a deeper truth. Junkie Faithful doesn't rock as hard as Reilly has in the past, but this is still some of his best work. He spits out words on "The Mixture" with such obvious glee that the melody of the song nearly gets lost in the process. There are plenty of older Dylan references, especially with producer Ed Tinley's Al Kooper-ish organ, but there is also room for the psychedelic '70s ELO pop flourishes of "God and Money." Reilly's dry vocals perfectly offset this mélange of styles as he navigates the music's twists with shrugged-shouldered cool and a sardonic indifference that places him in Prophet's groove. This is especially true on "I Will Let You Down," an admission to his girlfriend that he might be a violent serial killer. "Somewhere between dreams and fear is life," he sings on "Devil's Valentine," just one of the tossed off gems here. With words as smart and plentiful as those, it would have been a nice bonus to include printed lyrics in the disc's booklet, but Reilly's vocals are mixed loud and generally clear enough for astute listeners to catch the verbal intricacies. Dark, dry, and challenging, Ike Reilly never takes the easy way, which might preclude him from ever crossing over but yields compelling albums such as this.

Junkie Faithful, The Ike Reilly Assassination
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