Bobby Conn / Bobby Conn & The Glass Gypsies

The Homeland

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Operating on the premise that it's better to laugh about your worries than cry about them, Bobby Conn's Homeland skewers the climate of America's political and popular culture under the second Bush administration. With lyrics like "If you're willing to die for what you believe/Then we're happy to kill you all," from the closing track, "Ordinary Violence," it's clear that this album is full of the kind of humor that comes out of deep frustration. And while Conn may be preaching to the converted -- virtually anyone familiar with his music is more than likely to share at least some of his views -- Homeland is still an entertaining sermon. Conn & the Glass Gypsies' theatrical mix of glam, hard rock, pop, disco, and virtually anything else that tickles their fancy works surprisingly well as a vehicle for their anger; the pomposity of the title track alone captures the arrogance of the Ugly American quite well. That also goes for the glammy epic "We're Taking Over the World" and off-kilter mod rock of "We Come in Peace," which neatly sums up the hypocrisy the group sees in the war on Iraq: "We brought our guns to set you free." The album is equally witty musically and lyrically, with couplets like "Home Sweet Home"'s "You know, ironic distance isn't very far/This rifle has a range of two thousand yards" matched by the coked-out disco ode to George W. Bush, "Relax." Homeland branches out to social commentary on tracks like "The Style I Need," which decries the emptiness of nipped and tucked perfection with a pop-metal backdrop, and the soft rock sellout of "Cashing Objections." Conn finds problems everywhere he turns in his Homeland; the only time he's truly happy is drunk in London on "Bus No. 243," a song whose insurgent, swinging '60s pop is one of the album's highlights. Despite the album's collage of styles -- which is business as usual for Conn -- Homeland is possibly his most finely honed album, which makes sense given its overriding concept. Even though it loses a bit of focus by the time "My Special Friend" rolls around, the album's mix of decadent sounds and principled outrage is still interesting. Homeland may not be music for the ages, but it does cast a sharply satirical gaze at its own time.

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