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Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic CD (album) cover

PRETZEL LOGIC

Steely Dan

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.70 | 184 ratings

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Kempokid
3 stars Seems that this band is just full of surprises, given how after Countdown to Ecstasy, I'd expected Steely Dan's next album to slowly progress into more jazzy, complex territory as the next logical step towards Aja. What actually happened however, was that Pretzel Logic felt more like the continuation of Can't Buy a Thrill, feeling far more stripped back and breezy, with far more attention given to the catchy hooks and laid back melodies than ever before. This can be immediately seen by the opening track, Rikki Don't Lose that Number, with a lot of that same sort of faux-jazziness that doesn't sound quite right, but still is able to evoke the sort of relaxed atmosphere that I'd assume the band was going for here. The chorus is also extremely catchy, with the gradually increasing intensity and passion put into it as it goes on making for a really great track. The way this ties into the album's sound in general is cool as well, with a lot of other tracks taking these sorts of key elements and applying them to the core approach, with the main differences coming mainly from the fact that this is a pretty eclectic album.

While the album is very cohesive as a whole, a lot of the tracks have slight tinges of other genres thrown into the mix, such as the folkiness of Any Major Dude's opening, the light funkiness of Night By Night, and the Country twang of With a Gun. Of these, Night by Night is easily the best of these, the the aforementioned funkiness of it contributing a lot to creating an engaging listening experience, especially when combined with the best guitar solo on the album. While it's understandably not very well liked, East St. Louis Toodle-Oo is a track I'm also quite partial to, with its sound being the exact kind of thing that evokes imagery of old-timey films, and the instrumentation as a whole being really nice and well played. The one other song that warrants some mention is the title track, for being so memorable based on the fact that it so closely resembles the instrumentation of Bill Withers' Do It Good, with a steady groove that remains in your head for days after. While there are definitely many more songs on the album, here's where the issue comes in, I can't remember any of them, they're pleasant when they come on, but end up lacking much in the ways of memorable songwriting, all blending together to create an amorphous pile of music that is indistinguishable by memory alone, so I guess it's fortunate that the music with these tracks at least sounds nice regardless, otherwise I wouldn't like the album much at all.

Overall, while at times this album can be very unmemorable, it's still largely a positive listening experience with some great highlights throughout. As is the standard for the band, it sounds very meticulous even in its most conventional, accessible moments, which goes a long way to have them distinguish themselves from a lot of other acts of the time. With that said, it's also probably their least distinctive album of the 4 I've heard, with the more middle of the road nature of a good half of the tracks makes it an album that while preferring to Cant Buy A Thrill, would be far from my first pick to give to someone. Steely Dan may have a knack for making some great, catchy pop music, but it doesn't make this album epitomise a lot of the gripes people have with the band any less prominent, it's just a good thing that I like the band so that stuff isn't egregious to me.

Best tracks: Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Night By Night, Pretzel Logic

Weakest tracks: Barrytown, Through With Buzz

Kempokid | 3/5 |

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