This review is not going to be objective. It is an exercise for me to justify my feelings that Silver Jews are the most wonderful band ever. That’s right, I put a full stop. Ha. The man behind Silver Jews is David Berman, a man so mind-blowingly articulate, that half the time it is impossible to comprehend what he’s saying. He is a lyrical genius. But what about the music, you fool?
“I’d been lonely since she found Christ”
If you’ve ever read anything about the Joos, you’ll have seen a consistent name-drop; Pavement. Steven Malkmus is on this album. This album sounds like Pavement. When they were really good. Pavement combined with David Berman. Lush. Berman is a beautiful singer, but at the same time, he’s the antithesis of his mate Will Oldham. He sings so passionately off-key, he invents a whole new key - the right key. All music that is not made in the key of Silver Jews is wrong. Simple as that.
“No one should have two lives, now you know my middle names are wrong and right”
‘American Water’ opens with ‘Random Rules’, a song about adultery. It’s sad, funny and confusing, just like all the other songs on this album. Did I mention that Berman is a lyrical genius? The next track, ‘Smith and Jones Forever’ is unrelenting, with Berman’s vocals gratingly deep. In both senses of the word.
“Are you honest when no one’s looking?”
By the third track, Berman already seems to be apologetic for his harsh music. ‘Night Society’ is an instrumental. Berman’s voice is nowhere to be seen, but it’s still brilliant. Steve Malkmus is sharing the vocal duties now. Malkmus’ melodic sweetness and Berman’s forty-a-day tones, that’ll never work. It does. Damn, this album is good.
“I love your amethyst eyes, your protestant thighs”
What does amethyst mean? Who cares. ‘Blue Arrangements’, like so many of Silver Jews’ songs, is fiercely self-conscious as a piece of music. It doesn’t pretend to be a pearl of wisdom, just a song in an album full of wonderful songs. It’s not all abstract nonsense. ‘Honk If You’re Lonely Tonight’ is a straight up country and western song. I hate country and western music. I love this song. Each track is a highlight; everything bad about this record just makes it better; the spindly guitars, the directionless lyrics, the hollow harmonies.
“Why can’t monsters get along with other monsters?”
David Berman, you are a genius. Silver Jews rule my world. My world is beautiful. Come join me.
9Jamie Stevens's Score