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Jesse Malin - Down at the social
on 10 July 2010
Jesse Malin hit earth with the force of a very large comet in 2002 with the excellent "The Fine Art Of Self Destruction" packed with goodtime songs like "TKO" and "Wendy". He was in addition during that period "hooked" to the coat tails of the then red hot Ryan Adams who at the time of "Heartbreaker" and "Gold" could do not wrong. As a result he became championed by Uncut magazine and his album appeared on numerous year end lists.
Malin unfortunately has never really surpassed that moment and while making a number of steady albums its difficult to speak of any great advance or huge progression in his music. A sure sign of this is that his reviews on Amazon have been in terminal decline over the recent period suggesting that interest is waning. A shame really because "love it to Life" is by a country mile his best album since the "Fine Art" and while his influence may have waned his ability to attract star names continues with Ryan Adams, Brian Fallon and Mandy Moore (Mrs Adams) all guesting on the album. There is no real point giving intricate descriptions of the songs since they have generally a Springsteen meets Adams feel about them and some echoes of the Gaslight Anthem. The best are "Burning the Bowery" with its addictive chorus and the excellent Tom Pettyish style rocker "Disco Ghetto". That said there are other songs here which suggest that lyrically Malin has run out of steam not least of all "Revelations" with its naff chant of "Everything is gonna be ok/Gonna be alright/Gonna be ok", while "Black Boombox" is overcooked and just tries to hard. Consequently you come away from this album with a sense of enjoyment but not total satisfaction. Malin is clearly a "sticker" but he will need to find a new direction in the future to maintain ongoing interest particularly if he doesn't always want to be in the shadows of his more famous friends.