Despite the name Electric, this album is no more or less electric than his other records. Indeed, while this name may imply a much faster, heavier album, there are a number of ballads (and acoustic guitars) as well. But if you like Richard for his amazing solos, you won’t be disappointed.
“Stony Ground” and “Sally B” are dark rockers (both mention gutters) with great fast solos. “Treadmill” is one of RT’s class/money songs which are always spot on, even if he’s singing about sheet metal rather than playing guitar (great riff on this one too).
“Salford Sunday” is a more gentle rocker and “My Enemy” has a wonderful circular-feeling delicate melody and a gorgeous solo. Both songs have female harmonies from Siobhan Maher Kennedy. Indeed, Siobhan sings backing vocals on “Where’s Home” (an acoustic guitar ballad complete with violin solo), “Straight And Narrow” (a rocking song with aggressive guitars) and “Saving The Good Stuff For You.” “Good Stuff” Is a beautiful album ender, a sweet and tender ballad which I enjoyed even more live.
Alison Kraus sings backing vocals on “The Snow Goose,” a slow, somber song–the kind of which RT does so well. “Good Things Happen to Bad People” is so unfailingly catchy, practically an earworm, that if there were any justice, this song would have been huge. It’s got a great melody, cool lyrics and a really rocking solo. “Another Small Thing in Her Favour” is a mellow acoustic/country song. The end of the album goes a little too mellow. Even though I like the songs individually, as a record it kind of trails off, which is a shame since “Good Stuff” is such a beautiful song.
I enjoyed this album tremendously and hearing him play some of those songs live was a treat.
[READ: October 10, 2013] 3 book reviews
This month Bissell reviewed three novels.
The first is YOU by Austin Grossman. Bissell explains that this is a book about a middling video games company circa the 1990s (Grossman was born in 1969 so he knows the territory well). Bissell really enjoys the philosophical attitude of the book, specifically the narrator’s thoughts on making and playing games, although he fears that some of the characters are rather two-dimensional (and can’t decide if this is a flaw or if it’s intentional since the book is about video games).
Bissell is largely very positive about the book although the excerpt he quotes about human duality and videogames was not terribly exciting to me. However he casually raved about Grossman’s first book Soon I Will Be Invincible (which is a literary work about superheros) which I think I’d be more inclined to read.
The second book is A Map of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal. [Sarah also reviewed this book--for School Library Journal!--and you can read her opinion here.] Bissell says this book is set in the Clinton and Bush eras but feels like it could be timeless (except for a few references to emails). The narrator is an aspiring poet. He’s returned from an Ivy League College to Tulsa for the summer. He meets a young woman, a high school dropout and much sex is had—which Bissell describes as “creepily detailed. The story itself sounds a little mundane but Bissell says the prose (remember the protagonist is a poet) is really wonderful. And the examples he cites are quite good.
The final book is The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. Bissell says it is about motorcycles, the art world and Italian radicalism, and despite the fact that he is not interested in any of those things, he found the book fantastic. He says it’s political, feminist, philosophical, sexy and something of a thriller. The narrator is eloquent yet largely invisible in her society, which sets her up as an interesting narrator. Although he says the books sometimes feels long, he says the individual sentences are so good that you don’t really mind.