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Max Eider: Best Kisser in the World

Album Notes

It's a fun title, at once bravado-touched and self-mocking, and that sums up the great, fine feeling of this disc. If Eider's mentor the Jazz Butcher isn't far away in terms of general inspiration and sound, Best Kisser still succeeds on its own modest terms, winning and wry, almost like a less willfully obscure or nutty Robyn Hitchcock. His singing voice continues as the light, breezy focus from early-Jazz Butcher hits; though nothing is as laugh-out-loud hilarious like the brilliant "Drink," everything romps about with good feeling. His guitar playing rushes along in both electric and acoustic modes, the latter more prominent in his co-production with John Rivers, with the occasional slower detours like the jazzy, tongue in cheek "Bel Air Home." Others from the general Jazz Butcher orbit pop up, including Owen Jones on vocals, while Paul Brook does a fine job on drums and Richard Lohan unobtrusively handles bass well enough. While there's a lot of the smirk about Eider's work in general, he still has a way of making things sound winning and straightforward -- a bit like where Roddy Frame was at the time with Aztec Camera, if generally not trying so hard. Winners abound -- the opening one-two punch of "My Other Life" and "Sensitive Touch" are Eider in a nutshell, fast but controlled, raving up in the least stressed out way possible, the full band merrily galloping along with him and his lyrical visions. "It Has to Be You" and "Raking Up Leaves," the latter with some great nightclub/lounge backing vocals and shuffling performances to recommend themselves, find him taking it easy with perfect aplomb as the cigarette smoke traces up through the air on a cool evening. Almost all that's missing is the Jazz Butcher himself, but Eider really doesn't need him this time around. ~ Ned Raggett


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