The Silver Jews

This new album by The Silver Jews retains the Southern charm of previous releases but loses the self-conscious amateurishness. It’s supposedly a “recovery” album, which accounts for the somber, bittersweet tones that flicker at the edges of these otherwise whimsical songs. The arrangements are a little indie, a little country and not quite either—good songs colored by country fiddles and banjos; fuzzed-out guitar solos played by guys from Pavement and The Jesus Lizard. Singer-songwriter David Berman’s lyrics are stranger, funnier and more memorable than just about anyone’s. Take these lines from the galloping “Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed”: “’Happiness won’t leave me alone!’ says the bird in his nest/’Get a load of this fucking view, it’s the best in the West!’/Sometimes a pony, sometimes a pony, sometimes a pony gets depressed!”