Emperor X | Western Teleport

Bar/None (2011)
By DAN WEISS  |  November 2, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

EMPX-M

Every so often a bright, nerdy, nasal-voiced and infallibly catchy male songwriter appears to less critical notice than he deserves for his remarkably concrete lyrics and thoughtful melodies. Beyond obvious screwball godfathers They Might Be Giants, you have the imaginatively wry Clem Snide and hip-hop/glockenspiel emulsifiers Why? You could even count the sodden-yet-tuneful Ben Gibbard, if record sales don't mar your idea of "underrated." But now to that list let's add Chad Matheny, a/k/a Emperor X, who may be the nerdiest, nasalest of all, and easily the most selfless and technological. After all, They Might Be Giants never detailed the emotional breakdown of trying to fix a crush's air conditioner ("Compressor repair is not in my skill set/And that's why the floor's wet") over a pretty, Gibbard-like piano pulse. And Clem Snide never self-motivated like Matheny does on the heartsick, metronomic "Erica Western Teleport" ("Don't think of her/Study for the LSATs"). And Why? certainly never painted a gripping geopolitical portrait like the triumphantly musical "Allahu Akbar": "Send us trucks/Send us tanks/Send us IEDs/Send us planes/Is the sky clear enough? Send us dust storms."
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, CD reviews, singer-songwriter
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