Dream City Film Club

Stranger Blues

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Dream City Film Club's music isn't really the cruel mix of sarcasm and anger that many critics suggest. The anger and hurt found on Stranger Blues is of a personal and political nature. There's nothing spiteful and vulgar in the lyrics, though some listeners might find the racial tensions of "Another Ones Skin" a bit controversial or offensive. It should be noted that the album's sorrows are significantly more personal, in general, than on previous releases by the band. Stranger Blues is a superbly sequenced, emotional vortex. The contrast between the noisier, more aggressive songs with the pretty, slow-burning tracks "Close Watch" and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" makes for an extremely compelling song cycle. Though "Nobody's Fault but Mine/Dirty Little Cherub" is also a slow, lilting track, anyone would hesitate in calling it quiet; its subject matter, detailing bulimia and suicide, presents a sad, disturbed worldview. "Stranger Blues" is reminiscent of the jazzy darkness found on Talk Talk's Laughing Stock, though the song is more pessimistic than any song on Laughing Stock. The cover of John Cale's "Close Watch" suggests a paranoia not necessarily inherent in the original. It's not really the most touching rendition of the oft-covered song musically, but it is as catchy as it is depressing here. Michael J. Sheehy's vocals are sad in such a subtle way that you have to be paying close attention for the song to work its power. The Cale cover provides a brittle context for the band's original numbers. If Stranger Blues winds up being the band's final album, as they claim, "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," a Bob Dylan cover, is a glorious, powerful way to bow out as a band. As the track fades out, one is left to wonder why such a powerful, dark band didn't find a larger audience.

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