New Bums :: Last Time I Saw Grace

At long last, the dynamic duo of Donavan Quinn and Ben Chasny return with an album that matches—if not surpasses—their 2014 debut. Last Time I Saw Grace is a downright masterful collection that mixes downcast balladry with pitch black humor, surreal wordplay with sharp observations. Like New Bums’ first effort, it’s got that elegantly woozy feel (think of the ramshackle beauty of Nikki Sudden and his Jacobites) but Quinn and Chasny are nothing if not craftsmen—the songs here are skillfully made and instantly memorable, even when things roll in unexpected directions. The architecture of each New Bums tune is strong, with Ben adding tasty (almost Stones-y) slide licks and sweet solos to Donovan’s minor-key melodies, their vocals blending together in weird and wonderful ways. This is an album that’s both devilishly funny (“Cover Band”) and strangely devastating (“Marlene Left California”). Despite the intervening years, New Bums deliver the goods consistently and confidently here, readily achieving amazing Grace. | t wilcox

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