Something Fierce A Sound for Sore Ears


THIS DISC DOCUMENTS the fairly amazing, amusing vocal/lyrical talent of Jeff Carpenter. In the wake of the popular bandleader's 1991 car accident from which he is still recovering, this labor of love took six years to complete and release, hence the album title. Carpenter is blessed with an infectious singing voice that harkens to 1980s indie-pop and Costello-ish new wave. And I'm betting he was a political science major: His "You're History" and "Watergate" portray relationship doom with an onslaught of textbook references and extended metaphors. Guitarist Jerry Lefkowitz's "Geology" jumps into the game from a different discipline. I guess you could call it college rock.

Carpenter's "Feel Like Professor" views the government in an un-hokey Gilligan's Island motif ("We have been morally stranded/Here on this topical isle," Carpenter puns). "Insignificant Other" is a syllabic volley about the love cycle: "Used to be her boyfriend, then I was her man/Later I became her lover/Soon I was her guy but now I am her in-"--dramatic pause --"significant other." This kind of power-pop pathos begs singing along, but even better, the trick is trying to keep up with Carpenter's ambushing meter and lyrical left turns. Good, fun pop songwriting.

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