Silver Jews

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea | Drag City
By RICHARD BECK  |  June 24, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
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Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is not the slow journey into darkness that you might by now expect from the Silver Jews. At once wry, witty, and weird, this not-quite-coherent set of songs is a more freewheeling tour of lead singer David Berman’s increasingly playful lyrical sensibilities. The never-ending story song “San Francisco, B.C.” chugs along for more than six minutes with all the jittery energy of Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts,” caroming from crime to love to witty jabs at silly haircuts and back again. Berman’s band of country-rock session musicians play with none of the studied laziness that marked the Jews’ earlier records —they’ve got their ducks in a row, even managing a few brisk piano runs. Although the record is on the slight side — there’s simply no replacing the inexorable, existential pushing forward of “Dallas” or “Smith & Jones Forever” — Berman still has a knack for catching you off guard with moments of strange beauty.
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