Little Red Songbook (Reis)


aec.lgms60006.2 10/13/98 New
$11.03 $12.98

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    Little Red Songbook (Reis) Le Grand Magistery

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Review Text The record that best defines Momus' self-described "analog baroque" phase, The Little Red Songbook plays up his longstanding obsession with Serge Gainsbourg's dark humor and lascivious persona, placing it in a bed of lilting, unpredictable, and classically influenced melodies. The instrumentation is minimalist, usually employing only harpsichord, analog synth, bass sampled from a Nintendo GameBoy, and drum tracks from a cheap keyboard -- an odd blend of classicism and kitschy futurism. The arrangements are often more layered than they sound at first, thanks to Momus' skill as a producer, but the resulting Vivaldi-meets-Kraftwerk sound still has an artificial, inorganic, low-budget feel. Not only is that intentional, but it perfectly fits the wry detachment of many of the album's tales of sexual manipulation; while some songs' observations are cultural rather than sexual, The Little Red Songbook is overall one of Momus' most explicitly vulgar records. However, its bluntness doesn't mean that the concise lyrical vignettes aren't clever -- the list of "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With" turns into a rambling awards show speech, and "Coming in a Girl's Mouth" spends most of its time pondering the symbolic meaning of that act, not just its physical realities. In fact, the subject matter's clash with Momus' "cultured" chamber-pop appropriations makes for a compelling tension. It's equally possible to hear this as sophisticated pop with a conscious affectation of elegant, high-class decadence, or as an intentionally trashy, dirty way of subverting the pomposity of music and literature regarded as "high art," skillfully using its own forms against it. Either way, it's unabashedly self-referential, morally dubious, and scathingly funny -- in other words, everything a great latter-day Momus album should be. The album ends with instrumental "karaoke versions" of nine of its songs, which were used in a record-your-own-Momus-parody contest (the winning entries appeared on Stars Forever). [Note: Legal objections forced the removal of one of the album's songs; when The Little Red Songbook was reissued sans the offending track, there were three short new songs included as a substitute.] ~ Steve Huey

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Old Friend, New Flame - 2:06
  2. 2. M.C. Escher - 4:32
  3. 3. Who Is Mr. Jones? - 2:10
  4. 4. Harry K-Tel - 2:05
  5. 5. Lucretia Borgia - 3:51
  6. 6. How to Spot an Invert - 2:42
  7. 7. Everyone I Have Every Slept With - 3:42
  8. 8. Born to Be Adored - 4:15
  9. 9. Coming in a Girl's Mouth - 2:34
  10. 10. What Are You Wearing? - 6:32
  11. 11. New Decameron - 2:43
  12. 12. Symphonies of Beethoven - 4:13
  13. 13. Tragedy and Farce - 3:38
  14. 14. Miss X, an Ex-Lover - 2:09
  15. 15. White Oriental Flower - 5:48
  16. 16. Some Mistranslations - 2:02
  17. 17. Ugly Sister - 1:04
  18. 18. Welcome to My Show Trial - 6:03
  19. 19. Old Friend, New Flame - 2:04
  20. 20. Tragedy and Farce - 3:37
  21. 21. New Decameron - 2:44
  22. 22. Coming in a Girl's Mouth - 2:34
  23. 23. Miss X, an Ex-Lover - 2:08
  24. 24. Harry K-Tel - 2:05
  25. 25. Who Is Mr. Jones? - 2:18
  26. 26. How to Spot an Invert - 2:42
  27. 27. Symphonies of Beethoven - 4:07

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