The Modey Lemon's Phil Boyd (guitars, Moogs, vocals) and Paul Quattrone (drums) invited Jason Kirker to join the band on bass and keys after he produced Thunder + Lightning. But that's not the only change on 2005's Curious City. In the band's earlier work, Boyd sang in a slithering rasp that matched Modey's blues-punk skuzz ably, if only satisfactorily. But on City his suddenly clearer vocals are the key hinge to mounting blasts of hellacious Moog noise and weird melodies that slink from under the belly of classic rock & roll. (On Curious they're weird even when quiet, as the downcast Animals redux "Countries" proves.) The background of "Fingers, Drains" warbles in heat and melting instrument noises, and Boyd's vocal on it is downright sultry. Meanwhile "Sleep Walkers" is some of the most efficient music Modey Lemon's ever made; it sounds like a lost Golden Earring B-side with its throbbing bass and insistent drum clap. "Mr. Mercedes" is right behind that. Boyd's story couplets ("She takes a sleepy axe to my skull....") link the stretches of rumble and blurt, and the song could be DFA 1979 if cooler heads were ever to prevail in that band. On Curious City, Modey Lemon are cool. They're cocky too, but not in an annoying, look-at-my-awesome-haircut sort of way. Because there are actual songs here, Boyd's vocals get away with their haughty tinge. Fans of the band's past craziness will love the yowling, dirge-like, nearly 17-minute finale "Trapped Rabbits," while "Mountain Mist" is the opposite, rewarding the addition of a bass guitar to the Modey Lemon lineup with its efficient glower and strut.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus