Mathew Sawyer / The Ghosts

How Snakes Eat

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In an age of information overload where it seems like everyone around the world is on the same Twitter feed and gets his or her news from the same four or five online sources, it's reassuring to know that there are still idiosyncratic weirdos like Mathew Sawyer out there who can offer up a truly individual perspective on things. British songsmith Sawyer has a voice that creaks like an antique wooden chair, and those enamored of singers like Vic Chesnutt and Lambchop's Kurt Wagner should have no problem with opening their ears to it. The tales that his voice tells over the course of How Snakes Eat, Sawyer's second album with his band the Ghosts, suggest what might occur if Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy holed up in a damp, chilly British garret somewhere with the collected works of Edward Lear. If Sawyer went the solo singer/songwriter route, his endearingly off-kilter songs would surely still be fascinating in their own right, but the additional colors added by his bandmates go a long way toward making How Snakes Eat a more full-bodied experience. Orchestral pop touches, psychedelic seasoning, junkyard percussion, and homespun-sounding indie pop are put into service behind Sawyer's amiably eccentric voice and workmanlike guitar strumming. The net result is a batch of tracks that brim with quirky but carefully crafted lyrical and musical details, flying a freak flag that's more about following through on a left-field vision than being an iconoclast for its own sake.

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