Though they're undoubtedly hipsterish enough to be horrified by the comparison, Cult of Sue Todd are, in some ways, the Bay Area's lo-fi indie version of the early Barenaked Ladies. There's a similar aesthetic here, with lyrics that mask their relative seriousness with a layer of goofy frivolity, set to an enthusiastically punky take on folk-rock. Banjo is one of the main lead instruments, and pennywhistle appears on several tracks, like the jaunty Kinks-meet-the Pogues "Better Things" and the nervous, jangly rush of "Foul Fetor," but at heart, Cult of Sue Todd are a rock band; lead singer Steven Perry has the same kind of casual, untrained voice as Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum, but with a somewhat less whiny quality, and his primary co-conspirator, David Nagle, often employs a swampy, tremolo-heavy guitar sound that keeps the songs from sounding as twee as they might otherwise. A particular highlight is "(Worst/First) Time," which recalls Green on Red and Wall of Voodoo in its mix of Ennio Morricone-style spaghetti Western themes and jittery post-punk clangor. At only seven songs, the album is disappointingly brief, but it's solidly entertaining throughout.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason