End of Love
Feb 22, 05
Spin Art Records
When the national music press swooped in like vultures on the Brooklyn music scene a few years back, they made a few mistakes. For one, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were lauded more for their fashion-obsessed following than their music, which is understandable, I suppose, because the music was inconsistent and annoyingly forced. Second, and most importantly, they failed to give Clem Snide their due, which sucks not only because they’re responsible for some of the most creative music to come from the borough of Kings in years, but because if people would only pay attention, they’d realize that frontman Eef Barzelay has just as much style as that screaming banshee I mentioned earlier.
Thankfully, Clem Snide is still plugging away, churning out records with no regard for the tricked-out hype machine that is most definitely not following them around. Their new record, End of Love, was released by longtime label Spin Art, and drives home the point that instead of forcing their sound to evolve the way so many other bands do, they’ve simply kept at it long enough to completely perfect it. If anything, they’ve lost a bit of the country twang that characterized earlier efforts, but the framework — light drumming, clean electric guitars and the standup bass — is still intact, brilliantly complementing Barzelay’s endearingly nasaly vocals, which will always be the focal point.
In keeping with the same tone he’s employed for years, Barzelay throws the gauntlet down with quips so sarcastic you almost can’t believe he’s talking to a loved one: “You’re so sophisticated/ Your mind’s been liberated/You’re the first to know when a movement’s come and gone.” The smart-guy-who-hates-smart-guys shtick is hilarious because he doesn’t rely on it alone to get his point across. He’s as earnest and sweet as they come, without being sappy and pathetic.
If Clem Snide keeps up this pace for another decade, their fanbase will continue to grow, and they’ll get the credit they deserve — even if music industry tastemakers continue passing on them in favor of jumping on whatever deplorable bandwagons surface