If you're a fan of Stephin Merritt/the Magnetic Fields/the 6ths/et al., you should feel right at home with LD & the New Criticism. For one thing, lead singer/songwriter LD Beghtol sang on Merritt's magnum opus 69 Love Songs - perhaps most memorably on the mega-charming "Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side."
Also like Merritt, Mr. Beghtol is a bit of a whore when it comes to sharing his talents with the planet - spreading himself thrillingly thin with Flare, Moth Wranglers, and the Three Terrors (with Merritt, natch).
Beghtol takes his latest roll in the hay with the rather collegiate-sounding LD & the New Criticism - a fluid group of like-minded, deep-thinking free-spirits forever torn between their twin obsessions of sex and death (I'm guessing). Also (and here I am again guessing): love and lies. War & peace. Paris. Nicole. Mary-Kate. Ashley. Etc. Ad infinitum.
LD & the New Criticism released their first album, Tragic Realism, on Darla Records last November. The sound? Well, Beghtol pegs it as "experimental countrypolitan deathpop." And, yeah, that's pretty much it in a nutshell.
Experimental? Not all that much in the greater scheme of things (upon hearing these 16 tracks, your grandma will not be scandalized; she'll just not get 90% of the references).
Country? Let's just say: "tinged."
Politan? You bet; this is an urban record. Not "urban" as in "Blood v. Crips/"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" "urban," mind you - but "urban" as in "West Hollywood," "the West Village," and... um... "the Pet Shop Boys' cover of the Village People's 'Go West'" "urban."
Deathpop? Well... that one might be right on the money.
(And no, you don't have to be queer to "get" this stuff; you just have to be as well-read, ironic, and just generally cabaret-centric as your average queer.)
(Whoever that may be.)
Truth be told, listeners WILL hear a lot of the Magnetic Fields in these songs - arch, clever lyrics paired with spare, playful instrumentation. (And yes, that DOES mean "ukulele." And "toy piano." "Glockenspiel." "Finger cymbals." "Etc." "Ad infinitum.").
Considering what a superstar Stephin Merritt is in indie circles, it's shocking to me (shocking, I say!) that LD & the New Criticism haven't been all-the-rage in the music blogs over the past eight months. The elbow-patch-on-tweed-sleeve band name probably hasn't helped a whole hell of a lot. Maybe not so much the "experimental countrypolitan deathpop" thing, either.
But only the most unhip of Middle-American, septuagenarian grandmas would be put off by such obviously "ironic" superficialities. The music's the thing. And LD & friends deliver it to the hilt.
[MP3] LD & the New Criticism/"Unpaid Endorsement"
[MP3] LD & the New Criticism/"Apathy!"
[MP3] LD & the New Criticism/"Always the Last to Know"
BONUS TRACKS >>>
[MP3] Moth Wranglers/"Never Said 'I'm Sorry'"
[MP3] The Magnetic Fields/"The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side"