Better Than Ezra’s lead singer and primary song writer Kevin Griffin sure can write a catchy hook. Songs like “Good” and “Desperately Wanted” are proof of that. The main problem for him, though, and the new record Paper Empire, is that he doesn’t do it often enough.
There are certainly a few great songs on here—if there’s any justice in the world “Absolutely Still” will rule the summer air waves—but there are also a couple of clunky dance pop numbers, with one, “Nightclubbing,” sounding a bit like a mid-’90s Blur cast off. (It’s a little embarrassing to listen when Griffin adopts his presumably unintentional Damon Albarn impression.) Unfortunately, there’s only some trace of what made the band so good in the first place. The clunky tracks dominate this record.
All could possibly be forgiven though, considering that the brightest spot on the record is a blinding one. “I Just Knew,” perhaps BTE’s hesitant foray into alt-country, is slow, soft and heart-achingly beautiful. Maybe it’s better to let Griffin shy away from the hook and experiment with weird dance tunes. Hearts would litter the streets if he wrote like this all the time.
Better Than Ezra is playing the 40 Watt Club on July 18.
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