Album Reviews

Adam Green & Binki Shapiro

(Decca/Rounder) UK release date: 28 January 2013

Adam Green & Binki Shapiro Adam Green is no stranger to collaboration after having made his name as one half of The Moldy Peaches with Kimya Dawson. Since the Peaches went their separate ways, Green has developed his own style by giving us several eccentric solo efforts. This disc sees him team up with Little Joy’s Binki Shapiro. Rather than regress to Moldy Peaches-style randomness, it seems that Shapiro’s presence has resulted in a collaboration of more restrained polish.

Potentially this could be the easiest review anyone’s ever written as a comprehensive summary can be easily done by writing the words “Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra” over and over again before heading to the pub after a job well done. It’s true that Lee and Nancy loom over this project in the same way that the Hollywood sign subtly presides over Los Angeles. For instance Shapiro’s perky and polished vocals effectively rub up against Green’s trademark deep, vaguely drunken deadpan style in a way than echoes their ’60s counterparts.  The retro pop vibe and orchestration also form a rich seam of bedrock throughout the disc. But, in the interest of critical faculties it’s best to call a truce and try not to mention Hazlewood and Sinatra for the rest of the review.

Here I Am kicks things off wonderfully with a tone-setting duet that’s just the right amount of off-kilter. From the first chorus onwards you know where the next half hour is going to lead. First single Just To Make Me Feel Good follows with a radio-friendly tune that confirms this album’s easy listening credentials.

What’s The Reward deliberately mashes two completely different songs together to disorientating effect. The vocals on the album are balanced until this stage where Green’s chorus crashes in on Shapiro’s tuneful verse like a drunken uncle at a wedding. Judging from the chaos of this track alone it’s clear that Binki hasn’t wholly tamed the beast, but for most of the time Green’s rough edges have been sanded down by his new partner. He’s less scatological than usual, even if some moments still maintain his trademark stylings that sound like they were made up on the spot.

Clocking in a just less than half an hour, this disc breezes by in a pleasant jiffy and is certainly an easy going listen. The comparative restraint seems to have had a great effect on Green but the moments when the polish slips provide a couple of minor hiccups. The album’s lengthy gestation period and ultimate brevity mean that these vocal eccentricities and moments that don’t quite work are likely to stick out more than usual. That being said, this collaboration is never less than intriguing, fans are sure to love it and the poppy approach is likely to gain some new converts. As a homage to all the good things about ’60s easy listening this ticks all the boxes even if it feels too much like a re-hash of times gone by.

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