New Leaves - Polyvinyl
FILTER Grade: 83%
By Breanna Murphy on January 26, 2010
It’s pure and blatant honesty once again from Mike Kinsella, Chicagoan cult hero of past projects American Football and Cap’n Jazz. Owen’s been Kinsella’s main confessional since 2001, and the sound’s not changed a bit since that first eponymous record hit. And it has no reason to; the singer’s emphatic delivery and subdued instrumentation serves more than its due every time. Like a page torn from a poet’s diary, the lines are far more rambling and intrusive than most of us are used to, considering the typical pop fodder propelled from FM radio, which might leave some shifting uncomfortably or quick to dismiss Kinsella as “too emotional,” but at least it’s refreshingly real and vulnerable. On the second track he writes: “I’ve good friends with bad habits/What am I to do?/Literary romantics, they fuck like Wilde and indulge like Hemingway.” Whether constantly questioning or dismissively venting, Kinsella’s got a true and clever wit to compliment his writer’s eye and musician’s ear.