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Their least effective album - yes, but this is Fagen, so hardly "bad"
on 11 July 2011
This is not going to be a long winded review; not much to say, overall. This is a very enjoyable album. Their least enjoyable, both in terms of style and quality, in my opinion. Their first seven albums showcased a constant evolution to the point of Gaucho where they were effectively an atmospheric, loungey-type jazz-rock unit, with little of the rock: not something I minded; band has to keep changing after all, and despite less of an overt FOCUS on melodies, they were still throwing up some real crackers. Two against nature was an great return: their least consistent effort up to that point, but a HIGHLY enjoyable album none the less: good combination of styles: had the laid back nature of where they left off, but with a bit more focus on catchiness and melody again: This album is not much like TWO at all: it attempts a rockier, punchier sound similar to, say, Pretzel, or Katy lied, but does not really have the strong melodies to back it up: the band could make the more atmospheric stuff sound intersting just by their instrumentation, but with rockier, more up-beat material like this, there has to be something a bit less basic and a mite more melodious there, which, for the most part their isn't: not that it's bad: far from it: songs are uniformly enjoyable, but rarely reach the heights of past glories, and that included Two against nature: the album works well when it plays more overt, poppy stuff such as lunch with Gina and Pixeleen, but for the most part, it seems perfectly content to rumble on, mid pace, with enjoyable if unremarkable vocals and instrumentation. So not really anything bad about this album, but it feels noticeably lazier than Fagen and Becker's other works, the songwriting in particular seems lazier, something which is made more noticeable, in my opinion, by the attempted rockier feel of it, which, as I said before, needs stronger material to keep it afloat and interesting than more atmospheric-based stuff might.
To sum up, there are great moments (godwhacker, pixeleen, lunch with gina are all crackers, imo, and no song could count as bad, plus Beckers moment behind the mic I actually found quite effective), but overall it feels artistically and quality wise a bit "Meh", like they just made what they thought a Dan album should sound like rather than made any effort with it: So, again, good not great: Dan fan? still buy it, obviously, but dont expect THAT much from it: for a better Steely Dan album from around this general period, check out the fantastic Morph the cat.
Fave song: pixeleen
Least fave: The last mall