The Hefner Brain
After their previous album, 'We Love the City,' left me underwhelmed, I was in no great hurry to hear 'Dead Media' when it came out last fall. My mistake; my *BIG* mistake. They had given themselves a complete makeover -- reinventing themselves as an electronic band -- while simultaneously managing (somehow) to not really change all that much.
I mean, the arrangements were far different from previous albums, what with all the keyboards and drum machines, but the songs were stylistically not too different from previous efforts. Maybe a tad more poppy in places, but the end result was a fresh 'new' sound that didn't give the impression of bandwagon jumping ('Hey gang, sales are down and electro is really big these days. What if we were to.... ?') Why, when I think of all those months that CD was out and I wasn't listening to it -- well, it just about breaks my heart.
Then, to make matters worse, we didn't even get a copy of it at the station until THIS year! Almost criminal, considering how huge Hefner had been at the Z in the past. Of course, everything worked out well in the end: we finally got the CD and we played the hell out of it. Now that 'Dead Media's three months in playlist are up, here's a smidgen of new stuff, without so much delay this time around. I don't usually do a track-by-track description, but here goes:
Track 1 -- 'When the Angels Play Their Drum Machines (Mothership Mix)' A remix of my favorite track (which also happened to be the hit at WZBC) from 'Dead Media.' And it's not annoyingly extended, either; just subtle differences from the album version (a slightly more busy rhythm track, different keyboard solo, etc.). Non-essential but nice nonetheless.
Track 2 -- 'Dark Hearted Discos' A bouncy (rather Erasure-like) tune with understated, multi-tracked vocals. Nice chorus. Better than your run-of-the-mill b-side.
Track 3 -- 'The Baggage Reclaim Song' Dear lord, this song alone is worth the price of the CD. This one grabs me like 'The Hymn for the Cigarettes' did. Starts quiet, loping beat, glorious chorus. The star of this release and my 'pick to click' -- will make an outstanding summertime WZBC hit.
Track 4 -- 'Can't Help Losing You' Mid-tempo country number (with brass). Reminds me of 'The Greedy Ugly People,' but doesn't get as peppy. Revisits the lyric 'life without [you] is only half a life' from 'Half a Life' as well as using the old Hefner lyrical device: a list of 'thank you[s] for the___.' Your run-of-the-mill b-side.
Track 5 -- 'All I'll Ever Need' Quiet piano ballad. A pretty and melancholy 'missing her' song.
A great EP (which Hefner has historically delivered) and well worth picking up. Not only for Hefner completists!