The Sleepy Jackson: Lovers

Some artists are all over the musical map. They take a bit from The Beatles and the Stones and Bowie and Prince and Robyn Hitchcock and the Flaming Lips and Uncle Tupelo, and they mix it all together with something special and unique that could only come from them.

The Sleepy Jackson is like that, but without the special and unique part.

The songs on Lovers are all over the place. Normally, diversity is an exciting thing, but this sounds as if the band decided to make one song that sounds like the Stones, and one song that sounds like old Bowie, and a couple of alt-country songs. This is kind of like musical name-dropping. The Sleepy Jackson makes up for its own lack of personality by telling you how many cool bands they know.

Music: 2 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The sad and charming "Morning Bird" is the highlight of Lovers, even if it is a bit sappy. Otherwise, the production is thin, the performances are dull, and the writing is largely devoid of personality. "Come to This" is like a bad Dylan impersonation, "Miniskirt" is like a bad Uncle Tupelo impersonation, and "Fill Me with Apples" is like Bender from Futurama doing a bad Leonard Cohen impersonation. What's weird is the songs are all decent. It's like a musical cubic zirconia.

Packaging: 2 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The cover is intriguing. There is a man holding some sort of fuzzy animal that desperately needs to be groomed, while a couple of sexy women hang on to him as they fade into a line drawing. The liner notes are nearly impossible to read; prioritizing form over function is fine if there's a visually compelling reason, but this has "mediocre graphic designer" written all over it. A guilt-ridden dedication to Michael takes a quarter of the space, and is heartfelt but ultimately pointless.

The worst thing, though, is the blurb on the tray card. Please remember that this recording and artwork are protected by copyright law. Since you don't own the copyright, it's not yours to distribute. Please don't use Internet services that yada yada yada, applicable laws provide blah blah blah, to find legal downloads visit the web site of a record company that is panicking in the face of change. Or something like that. Yes, stealing music is wrong, and if I believed for a moment that buying this CD directly supported The Sleepy Jackson rather than the expense account of some coke-sniffing A&R guy, I would fully endorse this statement. As it is, it's as derivative as everything else on the album.

Listen if you like: The Sleepy Jackson were 'inspired' by so many people, there's something here for everyone.

If it were food, it'd be: an ice cooler filled with generic soda, like "Mr. Peppy" and "Barker's Root Beer" and "Cola."

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