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Kelly Jones should be whooping with childish glee,
This review is from: Insignificance (Audio CD)
If it’s true about stereophonical Kelly Jones bizarrely claiming Dylan’s vitriolic ‘Positively 4th Street’ as his all-time favourite song (bizarre in-part because it’s minor Dylan) then he should whooping with childish glee at Jim’s wide array of barbed lyrical put-downs on ‘Insignificance’, O’Rourke’s second ‘straight’ solo album. “listening to you reminds me of a motor’s endless drone/and how the deaf are so damn lucky” from ‘Memory Lame’, “I’ve travelled round the world/why am I talking to you”, from another.
That the album is being touted as a “southern-fried rock album” is confusing. It’s Jim’s rock album in the same way that Lifes Rich Pageant was REM’s rock album; both labelled by their opening tracks. Only three songs rock and even then the lyrics are delivered in that familiar sardonic, unfazed manner, with the tunes themselves morphing restlessly into beatific rural melodies. The title track even appears like some High Llamas before it quickly tires of the comparison and shifts into something more exciting. The tag with this album is not the rock as such but the employment of a live band (Jeff Tweedy wouldn’t really arrive on any album with “RAWK!” emblazoned on his shirt collar). Jim wanted the album fresher, more immediate. His previous album, the densely arranged cycling ‘Eureka’, sounded like the result of several months alone, cocooned in a studio. But even though ‘Insignificance’ is sparser, more simplistic, it’s still exquisitely crafted. There are no loose jams….
And it’s the craft that makes this album a wonder to behold. Those ever shifting melodies, the effortless jumps from ‘Cold Blooded Old Times’ stylie two chord Velvet rock to brass inflected pastoral folk, the multitude of ideas on each song, each greedily cast aside for the next. These are the things Mr Jones should be paying greater attention to. The short length of the album may irk but it’s all the more astonishing for the ground covered. The Stereophonics, after all their tedious and long-winded years of song, are still fumbling with the needle at the end of side one.
Nevertheless if these taut superlative thirty-odd minutes still leave you blissfully unaware of the perverse charms of Jim O’Rourke then you only need to look in baffled wonder at the brightly coloured sleeve. It features an octopus ‘entertaining’ a Japanese man-baby.