Cass McCombs

Humor Risk

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Nomadic lo-fi indie rock malcontent Cass McCombs' sixth album (and second of 2011) begins with the couplet "Love thine enemy/But hate the lack of sincerity," a notion that acts as the foundation for the eight cuts on the hypnotic but illuminating Humor Risk. The aforementioned "Love Thine Enemy" is just one of three slow-burn rockers on the record that bring to mind Kurt Vile fronting the Church; the other two, "The Same Thing" and "Robin Egg Blue," are prettier, but no less dissatisfied. It's a sound and style that work well with McCombs' obvious pop sensibilities, which tend to manifest themselves most successfully when the volume's turned up. Elsewhere, midtempo outings like the slacker-beat poetry anthem "The Living Word" and willowy psych-folk closer "Mariah" paint vivid portraits of amiable dissolution, and the languid and bible-bleak "To Every Man His Chimera" provides the collection's finest sentiment in "Oh, Mary/I'm just too much to carry."

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