14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Varied, surprising, exciting.,
This review is from: The Ugly People Vs The Beautiful People (Audio CD)
The sheer audacity of this band.... The wonderful piano-led ‘Top Breed’ is sneakily hidden behind the first song ensuring that people who don’t think of rewinding the CD from the start will miss it completely. This buried opener bleeds neatly into ‘Drug’, an engaging love song in which singer/songwriter John Grant proves his rock star credentials by informing the listener that a particular aspect of his relationship “is not ecstasy, but is better than cocaine.”
The Czars are a five piece band hailing from Denver, whose last album “Before...but longer” was critically acclaimed although commercially largely neglected. On the band’s sophomore effort Grant produces a stunning vocal performance; tortured, bittersweet and angelic, drawing comparisons to Tim Buckley, Mark Eitzel and Stephen Merritt.
‘Killjoy’ boasts the band’s musical diversity. Opening with a slightly distorted harmonica and a playful trumpet, this pop song soon finds itself in Grandaddy territory with toy electronica similar to that of “The Crystal Lake”, and culminates in High Llamas style melodies whilst Tarnation’s Paula Frazer lends an elegant and operatic backing vocal. The gorgeous ‘Anger’ contains hints of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Lilac Wine’ whilst ‘Black and Blue’, with its exquisite scattered piano and pedal steel suggests a country influence. The album ends with ‘Catherine’, an upbeat piece of vintage Californian psychdelic pop defined by Grant’s Magnetic Fields style crooning. Paula Frazer adds wonderful backing vocals alongside meandering guitars and singalong harmonies whilst the pedal steel countrifies and consolidates in the background. It comes as no surprise that Denver is located about halfway between San Francisco and Nashville. A splendid album full of surprises.