Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Beauty Pill: Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are [Butterscotch, 2015]
Not a groove record, and not a hook record either. An instrumentally fluent texture record serving an articulately sung melody record, led to its sweetly clamorous fate by Dischord art-pop hand Chad Clark, whose last album came out in 2004. Since then he's taken up the laptop sampling that dominates so gorgeously here, in part to occupy months if not years spent laid out by a cardiac virus and its open-heart surgeries. All his gentle tunes and surprising sounds contextualize lyrics that both parse and come at you from trick angles. The song about his heart, for instance, begins with a woman fixing her makeup in the rear-view two miles before she crashes to her death; in other news, a frozen mastodon swears never again, Malawi gays flee police, and an Afrikaner barista is assured "origin's not destination." (Haven't mentioned--Clark is black.) Foremost among the many who pitch in is the lovely Jean Cook on violin, samisen, and voice. It's she who delivers this Inspirational Verse: "You'll find that money is noise / This--us, together!--is wealth / The body is just cosines and vectors / Love is the real health." A