Edwyn Collins was confined to the cobweb-filled closet reserved for most of Glasgow's forgotten musical deities until taking center stage with 1995's brilliant hit "A Girl Like You." With that bizarre coupling of Motown backbeat and post-Britpop sarcasm, he was a stranger in a strange land with no hidden agenda in mind.
Collins' apprehension and disdain for pop culture's dumbing-down is still apparent on his fourth solo venture. In the comical-classical paean "The Magic Piper of Love," Collins sardonically condemns the revived flower-power preachiness of the '90s, while mass-worship of corporate materialism can't escape his wrath on "Adidas World."
Collins hits emotional pay dirt on the romantically wistful "No One Waved Goodbye" and the gorgeous string and synth-laced "It's a Steal." Sly and cynical, he never comes off as pessimistic or negative. At a time when every new album reeks of tedium, Collins is able to balance the spirit of late cult producer Joe Meek and the inaudible muttering of the Fall's Mark E. Smith without a shred of pompousness. For this act alone he should be commended.