American Water, the Silver Jews' third full-length release, reunites David Berman and Stephen Malkmus and adds new members Mike Fellows, Tim Barnes, and Chris Stroffolino. Named after a poster Berman saw at his veterinarian's office for American Water Spaniels, the album boasts some of the Jews' best arrangements and playing, from the flute and brass-tinged "Random Rules" to the driven but eloquent guitars on "Night Society" to the wah-wah friendly, '70s-style pop of "People." American Water also varies in tempo and mood more than any Silver Jews album since Starlite Walker. "Send in the Clouds" and "Smith & Jones Forever" gallop along, while "We Are Real" and "The Wild Kindness" stroll. Though most of the album's lyrics aren't as personal as those on The Natural Bridge, they still feature Berman's detailed wit, like this couplet from "People": "The drums march along at the clip of an IV drip/Like sparks from a muffler dragged down the strip." The tight, sunny-sounding production sparkles on songs like "Honk if You're Lonely Tonight," and Berman's and Malkmus' twin vocals brighten songs like "Blue Arrangements" and "Federal Dust." As with all of the Jews' best work, American Water sounds like it was made for the band's own enjoyment, and the listener is just eavesdropping on their fun.
American Water Review
by Heather Phares