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Mr. Scruff

Friendly Bacteria

(Ninja Tune; US: 20 May 2014; UK: 19 May 2014)

Andy Carthy’s fifth album as Mr. Scruff, Friendly Bacteria, is also his first since Bonus Bait came out in 2009. Carthy has stated a desire to strip things down and get “back to basics”, and Friendly Bacteria makes good on that promise. Chunky beats, quirky arrangements, and jazzy double bass and keyboards are still the hallmarks of the Mr. Scruff sound. Carthy keeps things eclectic, too, with flourishes of flamenco (standout “Feel Free”), R&B (“He Don’t”), and electro-funk (the title track and “Where Am I”). The nondescript mumblings of British neo-folkie Denis Jones feature on four mostly lackluster tracks, but Vanessa Freeman enhances the sultry, soulful “Come Find Me”. All in all Friendly Bacteria is agreeably left-of-center, but hardly outstanding.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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