A few good songs, a bit of humour, but mostly an album of misses not hits.
The good news is that Poky Lafarge’s new album starts with his excellent summer single ‘Get It ‘Fore It’s Gone’. After that the news is less good. Stylistically this album is all over the place. Second song ‘Mi Ideal’ is a sort of Calypso, meets Mariachi piece. ‘Fine To Me’ which follows is a fun piece of 60s Garage Rock that owes more than a passing debt to ‘Wooly Bully’.
It’s hard to see Pokey Lafarge as anything but a novelty act despite having 10 albums to his name. He clearly loves and wants to pay homage to a whole range of American music styles, but it might be better to explore them one at a time rather than throwing seemingly random styles at the album and hoping they stick.
To be fair the style settles down for the last three songs of the album which are all 50s and 60s influenced country-pop. An album of songs like ‘Yo-Yo’ and ‘Goodnight, Goodbye (Hope Not Forever)’ would have been a much better listen. He writes songs like these well. “Nothing says goodbye like a stiff drink and a tear” goes on the list of great lyrics of 2021. Sadly you have to sit through ‘To Love or be Alone’ and ‘Long for the Heaven I Seek’ first. They are both songs the skip button was invented for. ‘Drink of You’ is another clever lyric, but is let down by the plodding tune.
I’m sure he intends this album to be at least partly ironic and amusing, and the better songs have a gentle wry humour to them that works well. If, as he says, ‘In The Blossom of their Shade’ was the result of being: “Stuck in East Austin with nowhere to go”, then this does feel like a group of songs that seemed like a good idea at the time flung together and called an album. A couple of E.P.s might have been a better offering and would have given some structure to the presentation of the songs.
LaFarge’s last video for ‘Fuck Me Up’ was a popular view at AUK last year. Leaving aside the obvious clickbait of the title, it was a great piece of New Orleans-inspired American Gothic, with a brilliant video. Using the three or four best songs on this album for singles or an EP would have given them the chance to shine rather than letting then get smothered by a batch of songs that probably only got recorded because he had nothing else to do.