Floating Men

A Magnificent Man

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The Floating Men's sixth studio album is another of Jeff Holmes' song cycles, this one a sort of Walter Mitty fantasy in which a man reflects on his mundane life but denies its conventionality by investing his troubles with grandiosity. Right at the beginning, he dreams of "the girls in the grandstand" being attracted to his solitary posture. He may be your "Loser for the Evening," as one song title puts it, but he is "No Ordinary Man," as another proclaims. In fact, according to the delusion of that song, he is some sort of secret agent. It is clear, however, that this movie is unreeling in the narrator's mind, which may help explain why the same terms keep recurring from one song to another and why the story never quite makes sense. Not that that matters; what's important is Holmes' eye for detail and poetic gift. By the end, while still fantasizing, he is ready to give the game away: "Pardon my fame/Beware the barren, snarled, and jagged terrain/Of magnificent fools/And beautiful spies/Disguised as ordinary husbands and wives/In magnificent shoes." It's the most intriguing such concept on a rock record since the Kinks' The Kinks Present a Soap Opera, and of course in the case of the Floating Men, a critically acclaimed but obscure rock band from Nashville, there's an added layer of meaning. Holmes supports his theme with folk-rock and rock tunes that boast sinuous grooves and tasty licks, and he sings his lyrics in a thick, butterscotch voice that allows the listener to luxuriate in the sound of the record while picking up gradually on the repetition of words and the overall theme. It's enough to make you wish the Floating Men's fantasy of fame were a little closer to reality.