Eef Barzelay had promised us long ago that his days with Clem Snide were well over, which was odd, seeing as he was the primary musician behind the band’s music. But, here we are again with Clem Snide’s newest album, Hungry Bird.
Barzelay is one of those singers who has a very distinctive voice. It’s somewhat near the nasal region, yet in an endearing way. This quality in his voice makes you immediately familiar with him as a frontman, and it draws you in closer to the group; it is meant to draw you in closer to the lyrics.
As in the past, Barzelay weaves his lyrics around the most mundane of things, though this time around, there is less of a childishness to the entirety of the lyrics. Well, childish is probably not the word to use, so let’s use wit in this case. Seemingly, he’s thrown these lyrical concepts a little bit away from the group, which inevitably bring a more serious tone to the album as a whole. It’s a different approach for the group, one that might lead long-time fans through a period of adjustment.
A serious tone has been established through the vocal and lyrical element, which really sets the mood for the listener. The band, always lumped into post-country genres, has never been one to fiercely pick up the pace, but it seems here they definitely slow the tempo all the way down. Take “Hum,” for example, a slowly sprawling song, ending with a seeming crescendo of ferocity, but pulled back just in time for the band to hone that slowdown hoedown that covers the album.
Most will appreciate this album’s gentleness, as the level of intimacy achieved here is one that will bond with listeners. The quietude of the mood is soothing, and it forces you to pay attention to every little aspect of the album. Strong production allows you to see those littlest details, as the band has filled out all possible areas of their sound. It’s almost as if its a late slocore album, shedding the walls of country tinge away as they created, and ultimately finished this album.
Long time fans will surely be glad to have this band back together, working to create that soft edge of country sound that many people lovingly dote upon. While it may not be the best of the group, songs such as “Burn the Light” will surely show that Clem Snide is still a strong force to be reckoned with, now, and in the future.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/03-hum.mp3]