For Joseph Arthur, the blandness just keeps on coming. Foreign Girls is the fourth and final 2008 EP that Joseph Arthur has released on his own Lonely Astronaut label, and it merrily continues the tradition of the other three by being both bland and anemic at the same time. There was a time when Arthur was deliberate pop-rock stylist, a guy with a strong ear for melody who was happy to cover his modern folk aesthetic with a gauzy sheet of glam, but each progressive release has shown the founder of “The Museum of Modern Arthur” delving further and further into his navel, resulting in a series of songs that are virtually free of any notable qualities whatsoever.
“Lovely Cost”, consisting of nothing but piano, acoustic, and voice, manages to come off as a late-night dorm room jam that runs out of energy only one minute in, Arthur’s voice once again filtered in a way where it’s difficult to make out his hackneyed lyrics. Though an active drum machine helps buoy the semi-successful rocker “The Killer”, the chord progression feels tossed together and therefore lacks any solid six-string momentum (even as Arthur croons “There’s no Jesus to crucify / anywhere”). There is some hope, however, as the effortless “Stay” manages to hold to a solid melody and fun atmosphere, making for the single most enjoyable moment on this otherwise tedious outing for Arthur. As the video below shows, there is perhaps some hope to be found in his forthcoming full-length offering Temporary People, but at the end of the day, the less said about this multi-EP experiment, the better.
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// Notes from the Road
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