Jesse Malin

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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Mikael Wood

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