Review - Nixon

Artist: Lambchop

Label: Merge/Touch & Go
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Nixon

With "Nixon," their fifth CD, Lambchop has solidified its brand of postmodern, wispy cocktail country -- although you could be forgiven if you miss the rootsy foundation (the lonesome violin and pedal steel) among the cheesy orchestral flourishes, the gentle white-boy funk riffs and the casual detachment. Everything here is subdued and cottony, starting with bandleader Kurt Wagner's vocals. While his thin, translucent voice can be calming, his tissue-paper falsetto ("You Masculine You" ) wears out its welcome pretty quickly.

Most of the CD meanders through bossa nova and '70s-lite-pop scenery, with the addition of floating horns and fuzzy back-porch guitars. The urgency and intensity of the excellent final cut, a version of the traditional song "The Butcher Boy," comes as a relief -- finally the soft restraint gets punctured. But the 13 members of Lambchop seem more interested in a hazy-morning feeling: "Nixon" is like a swizzle stick dropped into a Tennessee well that swirls slowly to the bottom.


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