on 30 November 2004
Beginning with a chopin-esque piano intro - a spare and stuttering melody - "Goodbye" marks a sophisticated step forward from the last Czars album, the wonderful "Ugly People vs Beautiful People". Where that album was a set of superior slices of Americana, "Goodbye" is an altogther richer affair, combining classical ("Goodbye", "Los"), jazz ("Little Pink House", "I Saw a Ship") and even electronica ("I am the Man") to produce an eclectic, but occassionally over-produced, sound.
The central themes of the album are loss, loneliness and isolation and Jon Grant's sonorous and chocolatey tenor suits the haunting elegiac feel of the album (except where bizarrely vocodered on the mushy-sounding "I am the Man").
The centrepiece of the album is the terrific "Los". The interplay between violin, piano and Grant's voice works beautifully and when he sings the central line "I want you to give back to me the child I never was", I defy your neck hairs not to stand to attention. Clearly this is heartfelt.
My only criticism is that the sound is occassionally cluttered. Grant's voice can stand on its own, but rarely does. Particularly for such personal material, I wonder whether a "less is more" approach may have worked better. This was true also of "Ugly/Beautiful". Now if Rick Rubin could get his hands on them...
on 1 November 2004
I've liked this band for a while now, but "Goodbye" is possibly the best album I've heard this year. The main selling point is John Grant's voice, which is simply beautiful. The fact that he uses this amazing instrument to sing lyrics like "Save that bullshit for the bedroom, that's where all your best work gets done" adds unbelievable power. Grant has possibly the best male voice since Tim Buckley. Incredible production, really slow-burning songs, fantastic musicianship and John Grant. You really don't need any more.
on 2 December 2004
I was invited to see the Czars play live and expected very little. I was, to put it mildly, blown away by their amazing songs. The electricity cut out about half-way through the set but the band professionally continued and this only brought to everybody's attention just how beautiful John's voice is.
The recorded album is not a disappointment and will go down in my collection as being one of the best I have. An always thoughtful and passionate mix of styles but blended fairly well on the album. My only (minor) complaint is that the production of some songs disguises the natural beauty of John's vocals.
Heartily recommended, you will find yourself listening to this album over and over.
on 27 January 2005
Wow, one of those (many) albums I've bought on a whim/good sounding review on Amazon - and it lives up to hoped for expectations. Hard to pin down the sound or appeal of this indie-sounding band, part electro-funk (I'm The Man) part introspective pop, however it is just a very enjoyable eclectic mix, sad piano, vocals mixed with synth and some great guitar.
This album should appeal to anyone who likes Air, United (the band not the team), etc. I don't write reviews that often so if your're tempted give this album a try
on 12 November 2004
Their previous album "The ugly people vs the beautiful people" was one of the highlights of its year. Strong, dark, beautiful songs sung in a rich baritone.
Goodbye is more of the same and whilst I've not had it long, so it has not had the time to creep into my psyche the way "ugly/beautiful" has, I can already feel it starting to dig.
Haunting and gorgeous.