Review: Adam Green’s “Minor Love”

The half of The Moldy Peaches not associated with “Juno” continues to make compelling albums.

PHOTO COURTESY ROUGH TRADE RECORDS

PHOTO COURTESY ROUGH TRADE RECORDS

Mark Brenden

Adam Green ALBUM: âÄúMinor LoveâÄù LABEL: Rough Trade If his impressive display of general knowledge as a chance contestant on Discovery’s “Cash Cab” didn’t confirm his intelligence, Adam Green’s newest release “Minor Love” ought to. The album proves that the former Moldy Peaches duettist continues to pen his mad lib lyrics of coincidental eloquence and sing them in an impossibly paradoxical manner that is both heart-on-sleeve and tongue-in-cheek. With “Minor Love,” the New Yorker delivers the Rat Pack-inspired cocktail record that we expected Julian Casablancas to give us with his ’09 dance surpriser “Phrazes for the Young.” But where Casablancas came off inauthentic, Green sounds like a drug-fueled Frank Sinatra in the Age of Irony, which, in 2010, means he is the epitome of cool. Green is aging, both musically and intellectually, with a rugged refinement similar to Lou Reed. But the youthful charm hasn’t left either, as evidenced by his playfully formal lyrics. “Now I’m like this / A bare-chested ghoul / With his cigarette eyes / And his visible drool.” (“Breaking Locks”) “He was born / In a murderous fashion / The ass of the business class / Was his passion.” (“Castles and Tassles”). With the above lyrical winners, the anti-folkster is hard to take seriously âÄî even when he is being serious, kind of like Robin Williams in drama films. For example, in “Boss Inside,” there is a smug-mouthed jest behind his singing, with lines like “And all these other cowards / They’re not hard to boss around / You just get them in your arms / And you hold them ’til they drown.” ItâÄôs like listening to some Ron Slater-style stoner reading Poe in his high school English class, struggling not to crack up. But if you gave Johnny Cash those same lines with the same melody, it would be an utterly terrifying affair. While the imagery draws you in, itâÄôs hard to find focus on âÄúMinor Love.âÄù “Breaking Locks” shows Green crooning sentimental self-repudiations over a Hammond B3 organ’s peels. “Oh Shucks” is like a G-rated, Super Nintendo version of Modest Mouse’s “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” while “Lockout” employs his phlegmatic drawl on a ’70s funk highway (destination: nice). Finally, the closer “You Blacken My Stay” steers Green’s baritone away from Casablancas/Reed and more towards Jim Morrison. This record is almost a coming-of-age triumph for Adam Green. It’s refreshing to see that our man has grown up a bit since his whippersnapping days as a Moldy Peach, but comforting to know that he hasn’t grown up all the way.