Scritti Politti

White Bread Black Beer

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Unless you go strictly by the lyrics and/or the circumstances, the third and fourth Scritti Politti comeback albums are not very dissimilar. They're principally bright-colored guitar pop albums, though 2006's White Bread Black Beer features neither the guest MCs nor the deeply hip-hop-rooted arrangements that speckled 1999's Anomie & Bonhomie. Beneath that, everything on White Bread Black Beer was written and played by Green Gartside at his house, and the sleeve design of the album is credited in part to an Alys Gartside. That's Green's wife. (For some longtime fans, Green's marriage might take longer to comprehend than the Miles Davis appearance on Provision.) While crippling uncertainty continues to play a role in Green's life and the frequency with which he records, he's clearly in a frame of mind that was previously foreign to him, or at least one that he has never exposed before. Lines like "Very strange about love, you can feel the sun, there is no end," "You will never need to doubt me," and "When I'm with you, baby, I know just who I am" seem very unlike the person who once wrote "The 'Sweetest Girl,'" yet there's no reason to have a problem with them, especially since they're cooed and crooned in a voice that has always seemed to be ideal for expressions of love and happiness. It remains inconceivable that anything other than some kind of honey-based elixir has ever slid down Green's throat; despite being in his fifties, he still sounds every bit the bright-eyed boy, even when he's alluding to the powders and liquids he has ingested. The songs, as far as the writing goes, are routinely terrific; however, the ones that rely most on convenient synthesized elements are a bit dainty and rudimentary and deserve to be made without the limitations of a home studio. The major exceptions are a pair of weightless lullabies, in addition to "Dr. Abernathy," a song that snaps into a merry super-powered bounce worthy of prime XTC. Its implanted references to philosophers who held court in 19th century German universities (Hegel) and on 20th century New York streets (Brand Nubian) are a dead giveaway that Green acted alone.

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