Thursday, June 11, 2009

CD of the Day, 6/11/09: Roger Klug-More Help for Your Nerves

Back for the first time in nearly a decade, Cincinnati's Roger Klug has unleashed a 17-track power pop marvel. Klug bills himself a "pop scientist", and that's an apt description as he takes a mad scientist approach to this disc, experimenting here and there and trying a little bit of everything. In some measures, this disc is reminiscent of Greg Pope's Popmonster, which also threw quite a bit at the wall in its 17 tracks.

So we get the clever opener "Tinnitus", which mixes the metaphoric and literal ringing in one's ears of a song, and the worldplay of "tonight" and "tinnitus". He also gives us the straight-ahead power pop of "Dump Me Hard", the early XTC-sounding "An Artist in the Field", and the hyper-melodic "Girl After My Own Heart", which really does sound quite a bit like Pope. Then the quirk kicks in. "About Time" starts off as a jangly mid-60s number then segues into a wall of noise followed by a Robert Johnson-esque guitar solo before coming full circle, along with a couple of tracks whose names speak for themselves: "Witch from Hell" and "The Day I Had My Brain Removed".

And that only gets us through the first half of the disc. The rocking "Hi-Hat" is a treat, and he nicely juxtaposes the bitterly jealous lyrics of "A Girl Like That" with strings and a Bacharachian melody. Elsewhere, there's the Stones-ish "Souls to Heaven", the piano-noir pop of "Bogeyman" (which recalls Ben Folds' "The Last Polka"), the rave-up "Man's Man" and closer "Your Diary", an eight-minute opus that could almost serve as a condensed version of the album itself. Unlike many artists that come back from a hiatus with something that sounds like they could have knocked it out in a few months, Klug apparently has the used the time to craft what is perhaps the most ambitious power pop album of the year, and there's so much here that it demands repeated listenings.

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