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Chain and the Gang

Down with Liberty...Up with Chains

(K; US: 7 Apr 2009; UK: 20 Apr 2009)

Oh Bondage, Up Yours!

There’s plenty of loose-limbed rhythm and old-fashioned finger-clicking percussive snap on this disc. And a fair bit of humor, too, from the witty and bizarre “Deathbed Confession” to the snidely surreal “Interview with the Chain Gang”. Overall, though, it’s much less wild than might be expected from a group called Chain and the Gang and an album with titles such as “I’m Looking for a Cave Girl”. 


Not a wild party album then, but fun and mostly upbeat, with restraint and clever pacing t’boot. That said, an EP’s worth would have been enough for me, and might have resulted in some judicious culling of the sloppy and less inspired pieces like “Reparations”, which is over-repetitive, over-reaching, and a country mile from over-funny. The singer here is Ian Svenonius (ex Make Up, Weird War) and the band’s arrangements are reminiscent of a younger, leaner, slightly less (or more) serious Jonathan Richman (depending on your perspective). And as mentioned, “Deathbed Confession” is great; a perfectly paced strut across the landscape of 20th Century conspiracy theory. Sample lyrics: “I killed MLK / For the CIA / And Malcolm X / For Federal Express”… “I faked the moon landing / I saved Hitler’s brain / Yeah, it’s in Argentina / But it controls the USA”.

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