Quasi: Sword Of God

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Quasi

Album: Sword Of God
Label: Touch And Go

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In a recent interview, Quasi's Sam Coomes said of the group's new Sword Of God, "I got out of the black hole I was in, and started experiencing a fuller range of human emotion." By that, he must mean moving on from desperation to mere disappointment. Over four albums, but especially on the previous two (Featuring "Birds" and Field Studies), the ex-husband-and-wife duet of Coomes and Janet Weiss have established themselves as one of today's finest sources of depressive pop. "When you drop out of sight and you just don't care / It's all right, it's okay / You're on your way," Coomes sings on "Fuck Hollywood," which may not represent a fuller range of human emotion, but at least contains a thread of optimism sewn into it. That track, like most of Sword Of God, is crafted in the now-trademark Quasi style: subtle harmonies accompanied by thumping drums and the insistent sound of an antiquated organ. How does the sound hold up? As well as ever, at least initially. A nifty instrumental kicks the album off before the cheery-sounding miserablism begins. "You got a diamond ring / It's just another hollow thing / You got your career / You chose boredom over fear," opines "Genetic Science," which joins that sentiment to a melody catchy enough to make the pairing queasily appropriate. As always, the marriage of hooks and psychological horror works well, but for the first time it also starts to wear a little thin. The album's second half is dominated by weaker songs and lyrics that really need a fuller range of human emotion. Sword Of God is fine, but it suffers from following two better albums, which it resembles too closely to avoid comparison. God finds Coomes and Weiss confronting the weird paradox faced by many bands: the fact that more of the same is just fine, except when it's not.

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