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John Cale - Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood CD (album) cover


John Cale


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3.07 | 8 ratings

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2 stars Catching up to John Cale in the second decade of the 21st century (for me, after a long separation), we find the now seventy-year old troublemaker sporting pink highlights in his unruly mop of hair, and a hipster's mini-goatee on his graying chin. Too bad the music on his latest-to-date studio album doesn't share the same ageless spirit of rebel nonconformity.

Apparently winning an OBE (I almost wrote "earning an OBE", catching myself just in time) isn't the ideal stimulus to edgy songwriting. The backbeat on these dozen tracks is a little too basic and borderline techno for even my liberal tastes, and the melodies follow the same tired lead, providing an entirely featureless backdrop to a surprisingly underwhelming performance by Cale himself. What's missing is the passion and peril of his best work, that exhilarating sensation of clinging to a runaway freight train always about to jump its emotional rails.

With his voice pitched somewhere between the fading pipes of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, and too often leaning hard on awkward auto-tuned crutches (in the songs "December Rain", "Mothra", and elsewhere), Cale seems to be merely going through the motions here: a sad state of affairs for the same artist who once penned a song vividly titled "Dirtyass Rock 'n' Roll". Maybe he's only trying to keep pace with current trends in commercial music, collaborating with a producer who calls himself "Danger Mouse", and titling one song in silly texting shorthand ("I Wanna Talk 2 U"). Or maybe it's all part of a belated mid-life crisis. Either way, let's hope he finds a late-life second wind and remembers how to live dangerously again.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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