Jesse Malin

The Fine Art of Self Destruction (Artemis)

Jesse Malin doesn't just sound like Ryan Adams. He was produced by him, too.
George Trickel
Jesse Malin doesn't just sound like Ryan Adams. He was produced by him, too.
If The Fine Art of Self Destruction sounds like the title of a Ryan Adams record, there's a reason: He produced it. Jesse Malin used to front D-list glam-punks D Generation, but Fine Art is his solo bow as the kind of hard-living, hard-loving alt-country hunk Adams has reminded us so often he is, so who better to man the decks than Malin's new pal himself? There's good news: Malin's got a knack for writing rough-and-tumble melodies perfectly suited to his pinched tenor; he sings "Wendy" and opener "Queen of the Underworld" like J Mascis after a bout with hay fever, which helps when he's aiming for an urgency he doesn't always muster lyrically. And Adams' session-pro buddies provide Malin with some ace backup action, swirling wobbly lead guitar lines and Beggars Banquet percussive patter into the hopped-up cow-punk template. But there's also bad news: Like Adams, Malin can come off like a solipsistic fuckface a lot of the time--always iffy when there's wobbly lead guitar lines around to coax out one more sob story. Too much of Fine Art feels like sloppy barstool sermonizing instead of the well-observed short-story drama Malin uncovers in "Riding on the Subway," where "the Harlem mamas they are laughing" and "the pizza boys they keep on staring." Better than D-list glam-punk, then, but not quite out of whiskey town yet.
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