EEF BARZELAY "Lose Big" 429

"Lose Big," Eef Barzelay's new CD, is a winner. (By Dan Monick)
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Friday, June 27, 2008


IN 2006, the critically acclaimed but commercially obscure indie-rock band Clem Snide was reportedly working on two ambitious albums: "Lose Big" and "Hungry Bird." Instead, the group broke up in October, and the band's singer-songwriter Eef Barzelay has released his second solo album under the title "Lose Big" with a bonus track from the "Hungry Bird" sessions. This version of "Lose Big" is a stripped-down rock-trio affair, but Barzelay's songwriting and arranging are sharper and wittier than ever.

The wit is obvious on "The Girls Don't Care," in which he advises his fellow musicians not to bother with long solos and mumbled brooding. The girls aren't impressed, he says; they just want to hear "a sweet melody." Barzelay delivers plenty of catchy tunes, but there's an ache in his voice, as if he's thinking of all the girls he has never impressed and never will. On a different song, over another sweet melody and more crunchy guitar, he sings, "I can't find comfort in the fact that it could be worse."

Those competing notions (that life could be worse, that life could be better) tug not only at the lyrics but also at the music. As tuneful and optimistic as the melodies usually are, the vocals are often melancholy. And as fetching as the harmonies are, the rhythms can be herky-jerky, as if tugged in two directions at once. The result is a confession of ambivalence that makes this Barzelay's most personal album yet.

-- Geoffrey Himes

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