Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Mighty Sparrow



Martin Skidmore: Damn, this seems not to be a tribute to one of my favourite Bajan soca singers. Nonetheless, I like them better than most indie rock acts. Ted Leo can genuinely write a tune, with a poppier sensibility than the music suggests, and they play with some vigour and purpose. I have no idea what any of it means, but it’s very pleasant to listen to.

Jonathan Bogart: At least when Madness made a song called “Michael Caine” it had something to do with Michael Caine.

Matt Cibula: Can’t unlove this frozen rope of a song. Great leadoff track for a great album; not sure it’s anywhere near a single, not the way the world is now, and might not be a home run, but triples are the most exciting play anyway.

Spencer Ackerman: Another great, angular, manic Ted Leo song named after an animal and expressing the anxieties of the age of endless war and insecurity. Beautiful melodies, frantic everything else. Let’s give the drummer from the Pharmacists the respect he’s due.

Al Shipley: Although I’ve always enjoyed Ted Leo as an album artist, I respect that he usually knows how to pick a single that’ll grab non-fans like “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” or “Me And Mia.” And while this sounds enough like the latter, it’s also pretty subpar as a pick hit. If drummer Chris Wilson injected more of his usual swing and springy fills into this flatfooted number I’d probably forgive the song’s weaknesses.

Ian Mathers: I wish I hadn’t read how great this was before hearing it, because aside from the astonishing (on several levels) “Me and Mia” Leo continues to underwhelm me. His voice seems whinier than normal here, which doesn’t help.

John Seroff: After listening dutifully to today’s selections of Ted Leo/The Nationals/The New Pornographers a good five or six times apiece, I still would be hard pressed to tell them apart well enough to write separate reviews for each. Please apply this [5] to all three tracks and please North American white people, do better.

Alfred Soto: For years Ted Leo’s voice kept me from appreciating his band’s pretty good chops and decent songcraft, and on this number it’s irritating enough that it dissuades me, bless him, from listening to the undoubted metaphorical overreach. But the Pharmacists (including Leo himself, if that’s indeed his guitar solo) are up to the tricky arrangement.

Chuck Eddy: I actually made it through his whole new album, and this opening track has some energy, and some interesting changes; the album’s got other songs I probably like more than this, too, though not much more — a bunch of 7’s, no 8’s, I don’t think. For such an intense and committed guy, Ted Leo’s quite the mushmouth — like, I know he’s supposed to be very political and all, but I can almost never understand why while actually listening to him. He also never sounds half as much like Thin Lizzy or Joe Jackson as I wish. Maybe I’d like him more if I liked the Jam more.

Michaelangelo Matos: He’s told a couple of reviewers that he re-recorded the album from scratch after earlier sessions felt lackluster. I can’t thank him enough. The band just sound like they couldn’t think of anything better to do than play these songs, and you can hear that especially well on “The Mighty Sparrow”: There’s a surprise opening, two false endings, a hyper skiffle groove, and one of Ted’s brief, lovely, underrated solos, all under 2:40, locked tight and loose as a goose.

7 Responses to “Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Mighty Sparrow”

  1. Interviewers–he told this to interviewers, duh.

  2. I was about to ask you how was that beer you got with him last week.

  3. I wish he’d recorded it a 3rd time — seriously his drummer usually has so much more forward momentum, this stuff sounds like a drag in comparison to Shake The Sheets.

  4. I own a live bootleg, so where do I start with these guys?

  5. I agree that it’s nowhere near as speedy as Sheets, which is still my favorite, but I hear a lot of power in reserve, which adds resonance to the songs for me.

  6. I haven’t decided yet whether or not it’s a blessing in disguise that exhaustion caused me to miss our big day of indie rock.

    For my money The Crash Years > The Mighty Sparrow > Bloodbuzz Ohio even though they’re all 7ish – competent but not stellar work from people who have done far better. Crash Years might be an 8 thanks to Neko’s glorious pipes.

  7. I gave the last Ted Leo one we reviewed a good mark too! I like to occasionally prove that my indie hating is not quite as total as my pal Lex’s.