This is a great album but it must be admitted that, as the songwriter grows older, he becomes increasingly morbid. After the raunchy, upbeat opening song, the album settles into a reflection on ghosts, doom, decay and darkness.
"Four Mirrors" is a reflection on how one is haunted by one's parents, long after they're gone, by the similarities they leave behind in us. The poppy "Mr. Ambivalence" about going nowhere. "OGM" about denying the obvious when a relationship has ended. "Our Own War" (not "Our Own Way" as shown in the track listing) compares the battles of a love affair to war, and points out that when the bloodshed is over, so is the relationship. "So Damn Happy" about the relief one feels when ending a relationship. You get the idea.
Yet, the hardest thing about the album is that the author's usually crystal clear analysis of the situation seems a little murky.
In particular, "OGM", the a capella "Underwear" and "Little Ship" are reflections on a relationship that's, essentially, over. In "OGM" the songwriter is flat-out denying it. Worse, though, "Underwear" and "Little Ship" are about the bumps in a relationship, and how the relationship is stronger after surviving them. The melancholy overtones and subtexts suggest, however, that the subject is whistling past the graveyard. The relationship is long gone, and he's trying to pretend otherwise. Not the sort of "wishful thinking" we expect from Loudon.
These are not bad songs, mind you. "OGM" in particular, is one of his best, "Little Ship" is sweet and "Underwear" typically humorous. But the overall effect of the album can be depressing because it's not tempered with LW3's usual clarity. It's not surprising, then, that some of the album's highlights are on more extroverted songs, like "Primrose Hill" and relentlessly cheerful banjo tune "The World Is A Terrible Place".
LW3 followed this album with the all-socially-relevant "Social Studies", which is probably as far from this as he could get.