Record Review - 1 September 05 2001

Tonight I feel like Elvis longing for his long lost twin, Eef Barzelay declares on "Long Lost Twin." And if that somehow sounds both dejected and sarcastic, you're halfway to understanding his band's appeal. Clem Snide is a country-tinged Brooklyn quartet that includes a cellist and stand-up bassist. But they're no folkies — "Moment in the Sun," in fact, deftly skewers that scene's lesser lights ("I've got a lot of things to say/And you'd be wise to listen good/I think that hunger, war and death are bringing everybody down/La la la la la la la la la la la la laaa"). The Ghost of Fashion rocks more freely than last year's somber, subdued Your Favorite Music, helped along by punchier arrangements (particularly the horns — Salvation Army for "No One's More Happy Than You," indie-Bacharach on "Ice Cube") and the return of the band's original drummer, Eric Paull.

At first blush, it's easy to mistake Clem Snide for a joke band, an impression that's helped along thanks to titles like "Evil vs. Good," "The Junky Jews" and "Joan Jett of Arc." But Barzelay's punchlines are double-edged: "How could you say that?" he asks, lamenting over one of the album's many lost loves on "Ancient Chinese Secret Blues." "You just opened your mouth/Now I haven't the courage to stay/Calgon, take me away." And when he asks, "Does anybody get what they want?/What do you mean when you talk about love?" on "Ice Cube," there's no doubting his sincerity.

Clem Snide plays Smith's Olde Bar Sun., Sept. 9.??