With a knack for introspective poetry, a la Emerson or Whitman, subtly complex instrumentation, a wicked sense of humor and the vocal qualities of a Muppet, have been a long favorite of mine. They used to have a great D.I.Y. website with live songs on it and covers and stuff. They’ve gotten a little more sophisticated since I last reviewed them, and their music has, too.
“Hungry Bird” is the band’s sixth album, and the first since they broke up in 2006 after the band’s central creative force, , decided to go solo, over issues of money and time. All signs point to this being the Clem Snide album. Which is sad, but if all good things must end, this is a phenomenal swan song.
Musically, the songs are more ornate than previous efforts, with wonderfully intricate piano work and delicate, carefully planned vocals. There are also more long-form works, so the creations have time to spread out and fill the space allocated to them. The lyrics are moving, even when they are obscure. For example, “I wonder if she loves her work as much as you love me,” is the lament on “Born a Man,” a song about “those who are the most afraid [who] say courage is a sin, bracing for the impact by loosening [their] limbs.”
But the question all Clem Snide fans must be asking is whether this (final?) record is as good as their masterpiece, 2001’s “ ?” The answer is yes. It’s even better. If this isn’t the best album 2009 has to offer, then we’re in for a truly great year of music.
CLEM SNIDE COVERS!