Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Album Review: Jesse Malin - Sunset Kids

Jesse Malin
Sunset Kids
***and1/2 out of *****

The newest solo record from Jesse Malin is perfectly titled as the NYC artist spins world weary tales about faded youth on Sunset Kids which proves to be his strongest overall effortStarting in the glam punk D-Generation, Malin still has the streets running through his veins but he now sings softer sounding but still harrowing tales of a veteran who still gets in love tussles while wearing his influences and heartache on his sleeve.

Opener "Meet Me At The End of The World Again" (which just might be 24th Street in Manhattan) layers keyboard guitars and tambourines in a welcoming Lou Reed vibe as the excellent production from Lucinda Williams and Tom Overby stands out immediately. Williams leaves the boards to help with backing vocals on the alt-country influenced "Room 13" but the song is notable for Malin's best singing on the record.

The down and out have a musical compatriot in Malin who addresses the dearly departed on the piano lead "Shane", the acoustic picking of the dramatic "Revelations" and the rich warm ballad "Promises" speak to what might have been and memories. "When You Were Dead" is the focal point of the record as it sums things up lyrically:

When you’re young and you run and you’re burning like a star
And it’s fun and it’s done and it leaves you with a scar
Wake up it’s another year and oh, the lock and chain
Wake up and there’s nobody near but oh, the pouring rain

Wake up don’t waste your life on things that don’t get better
There are only two rockers, the dragging "Dead On", the radio friendly shake of "Strangers and Thieves" (complete with background vocals from Billie Joe Armstrong) which comes off a touch too clean and when Malin goes for a mid 80's almost War On Drugs influenced sound on "Shining Down" things aren't as successful. Malin does nail it with the stripped down upbeat strum of "Chemical Heart" which deals with a tough luck lover in poetic terms. 

Mentions to fellow lifers in rock like David Bowie and Sid Vicious/Creedance Clearwater Revival in the pretty jangle of "Gray Skies Look So Blue" pinpoint Malin's true love of the rock life and while songs here branch away from that (the soul on "Do You Want To Know?", country junkie of "Friends of Florida") broadening his scope helps Malin deliver his most affecting record yet with Sunset Kids.
Support the artist, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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