Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Foreign Girls and beyond

Or "Underwater", as it seemed to be code-named on Amazon.com when the actual title could not be located for a week. Either way, this is the fourth (and last) of the ambitious ep series that Joseph Arthur embarked on this year, and it's a worthwhile spin despite being the most uneven of the bunch. There are some gems that sparkle here, the two brightest of which are 'The Killer' and 'New Satisfaction'. This pair of retro-rock-flavored cuts (hint: the last track's title is a knowing reference) build up an exciting momentum, but then leave you at the end of the disc wanting for more.

A simple reordering of the tracks would have helped a bit, but no matter how you shuffle the deck, 'Foreign Girls' would be a bit uneven, with weaker songs like the dopey title track and the innocuous but forgettable 'Stay' siphoning the ep's energy. The lo-fi but lovely track 'Candy & Cars' is wedged in between these, but dig it out -- it's a sleeper.

Taken as a set, the 2008 eps have seen Joe widen his range of styles to include the electronic elements that were first (absurdly) hinted at on "Puppets" from 'Our Shadows Will Remain', and have even seen him skirting territory that was trail-blazed by Prince. Combined with the many unreleased tracks that he has posted on Bag Is Hot, as well as the full-length disc with The Lonely Astronauts that drops next month, there's no denying that the man is as amazingly prolific as ever. The fact that he hasn't become a household name and ended up being played ad nauseum on radio stations everywhere is an act of criminal negligence, but I suppose America has worse to answer for these days.

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