Although accidents of geography have led to Ben Barnett getting compared to another acoustic-oriented Portland-based singer/songwriter, Elliott Smith, Kind of Like Spitting's The Thrill of the Hunt lacks the mopey self-seriousness of the late Heatmiser leader's work. Not only are some of the songs overtly comic ("Share the Road" runs very close to the loopy anti-folk of Jeffrey Lewis), Barnett has an ongoing Web covers project, some of the fruits of which are here, including half-serious takes on Big Star's "Thirteen" and Leon Russell's "A Song for You" (best known in the Carpenters' version). And, just to throw in a change up, Barnett's buddy David J (not the one from Bauhaus, but the one from Novi Split) wrote and sang the album's brief title track. Barnett's easily cracked singing style recalls the early Jonathan Richman, and the widely divergent recording sources -- about half the album was recorded at home or on the road, and Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla produced the rest in a proper studio -- means that there's a fragmentary, half-formed feeling to the album as a whole, but Barnett is such an engaging, endearing figure that The Thrill of the Hunt remains entertaining throughout.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason