Andy Kim

Andy Kim [Uni]

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In contrast to his first three albums, high spirits never come into question on Andy Kim's fourth album, Andy Kim, his first record for Uni. Released a long four years after Baby, I Love You, Andy Kim is the polar opposite of his Steed recordings: it's a brooding, introspective work that's not just serious, it's somber. No longer working with Jeff Barry, Kim is on his own here, producing the album himself and writing all the songs alone, with only two exceptions. The feel is markedly different than his previous albums: even when the tempos are raised and the hooks are catchy, as they are on a stretch of the gospel-inspired "The Fancies of a Child," or on the rollicking "Sunshine," there is a distinct melancholy undercurrent to the affair that tempers any good vibes (of course it doesn't help that his one attempt at levity is a heavy-handed swipe at feminists in "All in the Name of Steinman," whose joke is so obscured it's hard to tell if it's witty or misogynist or simply botched). This is a deliberately dark album, as executed by a Brill Building pro, so it still has moments of strong melody and is impeccably produced and arranged -- and in that respect, it is not far removed from Neil Diamond's work of the early '70s, either. But where Diamond leavened his moments of gloom with dramatic kitsch, Kim indulges himself in meandering songs built on childhood memories and existential questions -- something that may sound intriguing on paper, but Kim is too self-consciously dour to make this into the moody masterpiece it was intended to be.

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