husband&wife – Proud Flesh
Record Label: Crossroads of America Records
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Much like last year’s Dark Dark Woods, husband&wife’s brand spanking new record Proud Flesh is quietly folky and introspective in a way that sorta slaps you in the face. For all its sonic subtleties, the lyrical content is rife with life-isms and blind searches for, you know, stuff we all search for. Although a bit louder than its predecessor, this is an album that once again finds husband&wife using their considerable strengths to create approachable music that can be enjoyable by aficionados and idiots alike. Proud Flesh is slathered in nods to rock of decades past (the bluesy riff in “6 Little Indians” or the neo-electric-Neil Young of “They Should Give You Medicine”). And hey, I’m aware that those may not be very good descriptions, but these songs have the habit of putting me in a trance. A trance that I’ve found to be pretty hard to write about.
But write I shall! Because if I don’t, you wouldn’t know that there is music out there that can cause weird writer’s block trances. It’s like zoning out while honing in. Or something. And perhaps no song on Proud Flesh better creates this topsy-turvy condition than awesomely-titled “Extendo Jam.” As you’ve probably guessed, it is indeed a jam. For nearly 3 minutes, a grungy, driving instrumental section creates visions of long-haired college students painting pretty pictures of imaginary stuff. Then as we’re like, “Wait, whaaa,” the vocals enter in all their echoic, distorted beauty, and we have even more goodness to juggle. It’s not your normal college/country rock song, and “Extendo Jam” rules above Proud Flesh with dashes of shock and one heck of a buoyant bass line.
Single “Proud Flesh,” I think, has made a minor splash in minor indie rock circles. It employs perhaps the band’s most melodic and pop-rock-ish stanzas. But “Proud Flesh” doesn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary for the band; they are not grasping for fame straws. Because even with songs like "Proud Flesh," the album is jam-packed with off-kilter mega-solos like the one found in “Low Profile.” Or there’s the epically pleasing closer “Class War,” which features another solo, albeit this one is much more rock n’ roll. But the song’s true treat is a xylophone solo that I can’t help but repeat over and over. Maybe it sounds like an orchestra written on a haystack? I don’t know. I don’t know a lot, clearly. Yet I’m fairly certain of Proud Flesh’s superiority to Dark Dark Woods. Things are still inquisitive, but not quite as sad. There’s more noise to drown out our uncertainty (I mean, “I Have Been Made Huge” could even be called dissonant). And when husband&wife decide to douse our ears in candy-coated melodies, it’s not a big leap at all. It’s Sunday night rock n’ roll, and I’m beginning to see that Sunday is quite alright.
Recommended If You Like: Mason Proper, Alaska & Me, The Hold Steady (for its midwestern-ness)