The Squirrel Nut Zippers latest recording proves that they are -- if not original -- at least superior to the zoot-suited masses they get lumped in with. Featuring a mix of old and new material, "Perennial Favorites" is surprisingly slight and hodgepodge, but it might end up as the group's most important record -- a small, dark masterpiece in the shadow of their last album, the million-selling "Hot."
The band's third album comes complete with a weepy old-time country ballad, a sleepy tango, a New Orleans romp, a creepy klezmer/vaudeville showtune, a mechanically manic cartoon soundtrack and, for good measure, another calypso cut like last year's popular "Hell."
"Perennial Favorites" captures the Zippers' music exactly as it should be: Like the creek of a dusty old chest, opening to reveal a pirate map of forgotten treasure -- fresh out of the box and already a lost classic.
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