In no way try to misconstrue what I'm saying as a negative, it'd be very wrong. I'm pointing to these layers of sound as definite positives. Music is way too easily swallowed today, it's a basic formula that you can grow tired of after only one listen, but Jay Farrar has produced something that will make you work to absorb everything.
The songs on this album are more upbeat sounding than the songs from his previous projects, but there is that dark, bitter side to the lyrics that Farrar always brings to the table. He's a talented writer when it comes to relaying the feelings of the everyday person/worker. "Feed Kill Chain," which is really the best song on the album in my opinion, has some of the best lyrics on the album. As with most of Farrar's songs, there is a lot left to interpretation.
There are many standout songs on this album. "Barstow" is a nice somber song in the strain of older Farrar songs. It's really one of the few songs with the simple feel of older folky tracks.
The album has some of the those awkward little instrumentals that we heard from Son Volt's last album. "Fortissimo Wah" and "Equilibrium" add a nice little break from the songs to give you some moments of strangeness.
The album closes with "Vitamins." This song is a great closer. It's a good look at someone bitter at the everything. As the song says "You're not really mad at anyone, you're just mad at the world."
If you are looking for something with intelligent lyrics, tonal landscapes, and roots rock edges, this is the album for you. It's really a combination of Farrar's projects of past, present, and future. I hope this doesn't make us see the end of Son Volt, but either way, I'll definitely be waiting eagerly for Jay's next project.
Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.