Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-09-23

2011-09-23

Fruit Bats: Tripper (Sub Pop, 2011) Less dynamic and more ruminative than The Ruminant Band, here are 10 songs and a poky instrumental for country hippies manque and other shaggy folk down on the little luck they ever had. All are lost, some more than others, but each is observed and distinct. Eric Johnson's falsetto cuts extreme empathy with moderate unction until he starts ruminating for real with the instrumental, which lasts two minutes and goes on forever. Then he seeks purity for four. There's another song too. A-

Jens Lekman: An Argument With Myself (Secretly Canadian EP, 2011) I really like this choirboy manque, which part of me says isn't the point and another says is too. I like how gentle he is, how decent he is, how observant he is, how funny he is. The first three songs on this EP are strong, the fourth misty, the fifth sweet and slight, but all know melody and all fill out a portrait of a young man your daughter should only bring home to mother. He's so talented and caring that when he spends the entirety of the title cut berating himself--laughingly, to an adapted Congolese beat, as he obsesses on a romance gone awry while walking the streets because he doesn't have enough cab money to go cry in bed--it's clearly a temporary setback. Most likable is "A Promise," to a Chilean friend trapped in the toils of Sweden's deteriorating healthcare system. Gothenburg's gotten meaner and he knows it. A

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