Cass McCombs: “Love Thine Enemy”
For New Music Monday this week, I’m going with the lead track from Cass McComb’s 2011 album, Humor Risk. Those of you unfamiliar with Reselect’s semi-official “new music” guidelines may think, “Hey, that’s not all that new! What gives?” Well, what gives is that I have a 12-month allowance for music to be “new” enough to include here — after all, New Music Monday is only once a week, and I don’t keep up with new releases as well as I used to. You know, that new release muscle gets a little slower as you age. (Not that I’m old or anything. And you young whippersnappers better remember that.)
Humor Risk was released Nov. 8, 2011, so I’m just eeking this one in there. But it’s a cool one, and worth cutting it close. “Love Thine Enemy” has a classic ’90s-via-’60s indie rock sound, with a bit of slacker rock mixed in, à la Kurt Vile. (I like Cass McCombs’ voice a bit more than Vile’s though.) Musically, it sounds like a Loaded-era Velvet Underground track, and McCombs’ vocals are similarly Lou Reed-ish, but by way of Lloyd Cole. And the lyrics aren’t far from the type of writing that Cole was always so good at:
Every idiot thing you say speaks of pain and truth
Because of the beautiful way your tongue can seduce
What’s behind the mountain is a mystery
That’s why after the quote I added “sincerity”
As it turns out, the rest of Humor Risk is very good as well, if not as immediate as “Love Thine Enemy.” I hear a lot of Lloyd Cole throughout, mixed in with more Velvet Underground, R.E.M., and a good portion of McCombs’ own identifiable sound. Which is what saves it from being just a genre workout — he’s steeped in the work of his forebears, but adds in enough of himself to make it unique and well worth hearing in its own right.