Praxis Makes Perfect (2013)

Apr 29, 2013
Disc: 1
1. Praxis Makes Perfect
2. The Jaguar
3. Dr. Zhivago (Bass – Jonathan Hischke, Drums – Eric Gardner, Guitar – Josh Klinghoffer)
4. Hoops With Fidel
5. Hammer & Sickle
6. Shopping (I Like To)
7. Mid Century Modern Nightmare
8. The Leopard
9. Listen to the Rainbow
10. Ciao Feltrinelli
Disc: 2
1. Years of Lead
2. Fuga in Avanti
3. Socalism at Sea (Take in the Sails, Head Into the Wind)
4. Non Aligned States
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There’s probably a reason the biographical album doesn’t have a strong pop tradition. Lou Reed and John Cale advocated for the genius of Andy Warhol with some success on on 1990′s Songs for Drella, and Neutral Milk Hotel‘s 1998 indie-rock touchstone In the Aeroplane Over the Sea draws on the life story of Anne Frank. But unlike Hollywood biopics, which strike Oscar gold almost annually, bio-albums are few and far between.

If anyone can popularize the bio-album concept, it should be Gruff Rhys and Bryan Hollon. Whether solo or as frontman for long-running Welsh psych-pop anarchists Super Furry Animals, Rhys has always had a knack for communicating lofty ideas with sly wit, warm feeling, and memorably inventive settings. Hollon, an accomplished experimental hip-hop producer/DJ in his own right as Boom Bip, updated 1980s new wave and electro masterfully on his first album with Rhys as Neon Neon, 2008′s Stainless Style.

Though that Mercury Music Prize-nominated full-length was inspired by the life of automaker John DeLorean, in a sense Neon Neon’s second effort represents their first true bio-album. The silvery, retro-futurist excess of the greed-is-good decade pervaded Stainless Style, and lyrical references to the engineer playboy’s life were certainly present, but the record was stuffed with great songs that humanized 80s-retro clichés whether or not you knew there was a story attached. Praxis Makes Perfect’s songs never quite hit the highs of its predecessor’s best tracks, but it’s a more coherent album, and still strangely rewarding in its own way. It’s just impossible to separate from its subject. […]