Most of R. Stevie Moore's albums are oddly timeless: you can imagine them being recorded in 1973 or 2003. However, Column 88 is pure state-of-1981 new wave. Not that this is a bad thing, but Column 88 is very much an album of its time, in ways that albums like Clack! or Swing and a Miss aren't. As a general rule, the rhythms are herky-jerky, the tempos are rushed, and Moore has an uncharacteristic sharp edge to his voice, kind of in the David Byrne wound-too-tight mode. However, Moore releases the tension developed by nervy new wave rockers like "I Miss My Girl" and "She Wants Everything" with changes of pace, like the minimalist piano instrumental "Three Fifty-Seven," and the venomously hilarious "For Murry W," a nearly-spoken rant over a track from the Beach Boys' allegedly abusive father's sappy easy listening album, The Many Moods of Murry Wilson. The title track is yet another of Moore's richly atmospheric instrumentals, this one a heavily-reverbed mood piece along the lines of Joy Division, or early Comsat Angels. One does wish that new wave revivalists, like Interpol or Whirlwind Heat, would check out Column 88 to get a broader sense of what real new wave was all about.
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