Jeffrey Lewis - A Turn In The Dream: Songs (Rough Trade)

09 Nov 2011

“Sometimes, you find yourself yearning to hear a voice that isn’t yearning to be heard – to hear a song that isn’t a rambling think-piece but a song in its own right - and yet, at other times, it’s entirely comforting to have the mulled-over, articulate neuroses of a man fast approaching middle-age and his own perceived insignificance…”; release – 2011

+F

Jeffrey Lewis, as he’s keen to point out on virtually all of his songs, is an acquired taste.  A Turn in the Dream: Songs marks no departure from either this truism or his previous output.  It’s more semi-spoken word ditties replete with literary brow-bragging and toe-tapping wooziness that are neither like to bring in new fans, nor deter existing ones.  In short, it sounds exactly as you’d expect – like Jeffrey Lewis.

So, of the specifics: ‘Cult Boyfriend’ (streamed below) is an incredibly charming song with an (almost) fully-realized pop hook about Lewis’s underground appeal, seeing him muse that ‘when you’re a cult boyfriend life is always intense/ they love me or they hate me, no-one’s on the fence’.  It’s as much an in-joke as anything else, and it’s exactly this sort of Postmodern wink/wanking that has made him the Williamsburg poster-boy he is. 

Elsewhere, he’s less self-referential and more bedroom-philosopher.  ‘When You’re By Yourself’ is breezy in the sort of way Beirut might write it, but as bar-stool profound as Doug Stanhope, with observations as starkly beautiful as ‘When you’re by yourself in the kitchen/ What’s the point of all that shopping and cooking?’.  On ‘Krongu Green Slime’, he tells the story of man’s evolution in the space of six minutes – a sure advancement on the two hours it took Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey - which is nice enough, if you’re interested.

And it’s here that the album reaches its fork in the road: Jeffrey Lewis is an acquired taste.  You either feel congratulated by his book-bloating vocabulary, his Beat Poet invocations, and his eschewing of fidelity, or you find it a frustration.  Sometimes, you find yourself yearning to hear a voice that isn’t yearning to be heard – to hear a song that isn’t a rambling think-piece but a song in its own right – and yet, at other times, it’s entirely comforting to have the mulled-over, articulate neuroses of a man fast approaching middle-age and his own perceived insignificance.

It’s an interesting album which at times is sweet, at times profound, at times annoying, but always interesting.  And surely that’s a taste everyone can acquire?

Jeffrey Lewis -Cult Boyfriend-new single by Acuarela Discos

Other articles in this category

Please allow cookies: cookies are small text files that are safely stored on your computer. We use cookies to find out how people use this website so that we can make it even better in future. These cookies don’t contain any personal or sensitive information and are only used by Rock Feedback and our trusted partners.