Mark Eitzel knows he's underappreciated, even if he hasn't always. As frontman for the beguiling and ballyhooed American Music Club, self-doubt reigned supreme on a series of musical postcards from the edge that never really became part of the "sadcore" movement they predated. These days, he's clearly making fun of it, titling his latest work with a dash of humility, this having recently completed the irony of his lounge singer makeover ("Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" included). "The Ugly American" finds Eitzel at his best -- largely because it is The Best of Mark Eitzel, inventively revisiting his own songbook with the assistance of a corps of Greek classical musicians. Not surprisingly, the results are spellbinding, as that booming baritone and miserablist lyricism are met with lush orchestration and uplifted Mediterranean pace, knocking melancholy into an enjoyable, global affair.
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