On Hung, Flare's second full-length effort, vocalist L.D. Beghtol and multi-instrumentalist Charles Newman collaborate to yet again offer up some of the most intelligent musical narratives this side of Morrissey or Radiohead, although the songs, in the end, are uniquely Flare in both timing and structure. Opening with the brief "All the Money's Gone," Beghtol then offers up the playfully orchestral "School of New York," one of the band's lightest tracks to date. Like many of the tracks on the disc, the first two songs include a slew of unique instruments from the band, including autoharp, cello, ukulele, five-string banjo, and sleigh bells. Despite the wonderful results of using a variety of instruments on some songs (nearly 70 different instruments are used on the album), the sparseness on a song like the wonderfully arranged "If/Then" wouldn't be nearly as powerful if additional instruments were added. "Keep It to Yourself" might be the best song on the disc, with Beghtol keeping the lyrics to a minimum for maximum effect, while the instrumentation sets an eerie, defiant mood as a backdrop. "(Don't Like) The Way We Live Now" is the tale of a modern love story, complete with witticisms and wonderfully illustrated narratives, while "Glitter" is an ambitious acoustic epic. The restrained "Differently Othered" might be Beghtol's best performance to date, his restrained vocals perfectly capturing the pain and heartache of the lyrics. The simple closer "Wound Culture" is perfectly accentuated by Mark Gunderman's violin, as Beghtol and Marty Flanagan share vocal duties on the crisp duet. While Beghtol and Newman lead the critically acclaimed chamber pop band, Flare is not complete without an impressive lineup of guest musicians, including Stephin Merritt, Ida Pearle, and John Wesley Harding. Le Grand Magistery Records released Hung in 2003.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer