Radar Bros.

The Singing Hatchet

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The Radar Bros.' second album The Singing Hatchet delivers more of their quietly quixotic, psychedelically rootsy songs, which roll along like tumbleweeds: shambling and seemingly fragile, yet surprisingly strong. Crackling static, solemn pianos, doleful mellotrons, and chiming guitars support the rambling, almost weightless melodies of songs like "Shifty Lies," "You've Been Hired," and "Tar the Roofs" and the clean production shows off the songs' expressive arrangements -- "Shoveling Sons"' guitars sparkle like dust motes in the sunlight. Musically and lyrically, The Singing Hatchet often manages to be poignant, spooky, and funny all at once; Jim Putnam's mournful upper register makes vaguely disturbing lines like "All the Ghosts"' "Eyes are painted shut and we won't come clean" even more unsettling, while "Open Ocean Sailing"'s lament "fight the ways of a slow production day" hints at emotional truths without tipping the entire hand. Somnambulistic reflections like "The Pilgrim," spaced-out spaghetti western soundtracks like "Five Miles," and sweeping epics like the aforementioned "Open Ocean Sailing" and "You're on an Island" make this release a surprisingly diverse album, while the songs' relatively concise lengths make it surprisingly coherent. A shabbily majestic, subtly accomplished work, The Singing Hatchet doesn't wear its heart on its sleeve, but it's in the right place.

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