You know exactly what to expect from Donald Fagen: that distinctive nasal whine, unpredictable chord changes, jazzy grooves galore, acerbic lyrics (some very nice stabs at self-deprecation here), and some top-notch horn arrangements, all expertly packaged and smoothly (if at times a little too smoothly) delivered by a band as tight as the proverbial you-know-what.
It's never been particularly easy to draw a neat dividing line between Don and Dan, but for a band notorious for its meticulous (if not downright obsessive) attention to detail Fagen brings an unexpected lightness of touch to "Sunken Condos", perhaps the result of having shared production duties with long-time cohort Michael Leonhart.
For all that, the album boasts some notable Danesque moments - the bluesy "Weather In My Head" and "Miss Marlene" two strong examples.
Some highly elegant soloing elevates tracks such as "Memorabilia" and "Planet D'Rhonda" whilst a surprising choice of cover in Isaac Hayes' "Out of the Ghetto" is deconstructed and given the full DF treatment but survives to tell the tale, dropping another memorable solo along the way.
For an artist into his fifth decade of making music it's hardly surprising that parts of this album should sound a tad familiar. "Good Stuff" borrows both melody and rhyme scheme from "Two Against Nature" whilst "The New Breed" has strong overtones of "Janie Runaway".
A little more grit would have been welcome but by and large "Sunken Condos" comfortably maintains Fagen's proud quality-control standards, even if ultimately it breaks little new ground.