THE GHOST OF FASHION
The indie brigades have been marinating in their own overdeveloped sense of irony for about a decade now, and Clem Snide can smirk with the best of them. Just when you think crooner Eef Barzelay is waxing sentimental, he throws in a barb that's sharp enough to cut the Crystal Cathedral's glass. But when such sarcasm is balanced by keyboard- and string-laced blue-collar lullabies (not to mention euphonium and flute), the effect is irresistible: tales of out-of-hand pillow fights dripping over banjo licks; a scathing blow-off sung a cappella over thick record crackles; a fuzzed-out religious epic starring Corey Feldman (bravely titled "Junky Jews"). "Joan Jett of Arc" is a surprisingly tender ode to a first love, and when Barzelay coos, "She fixed me a dinner of sunflower seeds and Ready-Whip topping inhalers," you don't bat a lash. The Ghost of Fashion and the warped world it encompasses are both bruised and beautiful, sneering and strangely sincere. (Kristin Fiore)
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