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The Kinks become more serious (and less enjoyable)
on 30 May 2007
This album's title 'Muswell Hillbillies' in many ways perfectly reflects its contents - a strange brew of english vaudeville mixed with a little country rock and an occasional jazzy brass accompaniment. Lyrically this album seems to reflect well the working class life of the Kinks youth with all insecurities that tends to go with it. It's almost like a whole album based on the theme of the Kinks earlier hit 'Dead End Street'.
While the english vaudeville, country rock and jazz influences seem far more compatable than one might imagine, 'Muswell Hillbillies' mood generally and despite a number of fine tracks is rather dour and depressive despite the fact lyrically the album is not without humour.
'20th Century Man', 'Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues', 'Holiday' and 'Muswell Hillbillies' (amongst fine other songs) are really fine examples of the album's greatness but unfortunately consistency isn't maintained throughout and many of songs although continuing the working class theme lyrically, fail to really spark as songs in themselves.
'Muswell Hillbillies' isn't without merit, certainly but one has to be in the mood to listen to it. At this point the Kinks were starting to see themselves as serious album artists, and while 'Muswell Hillbillies' is deserving of being considered in a more serious light, much of the old wit and inevitable excitement seems long gone.
Yes, it works on its own terms yet what is displayed here has a lot less genuine appeal than the Kinks earlier work.
Worth 3.5 stars.