The sound of Clem Snide’s fifth record, End of Love, triangulates the common ground between Luna, American Music Club and Red House Painters, with a twinge of twang and occasional downpours of guitar feedback that sound like John Cale’s electric viola trying to sound like guitar feedback. Lyrically, songwriter Barzelay inhabits more personas than Peter Sellers, effortlessly switching from acid-trip non-sequiturs to straightforward balladry and heartfelt confession, all the while working his literate, witty critiques of modern culture that fascinate but never seem to take a stand.
Like a Wes Anderson film, End of Love hangs in limbo between irony and sincerity, between a need to be meaningful and a fear of getting fooled again. For Barzelay, this tension spans continents, traversing everything from sterile American spirituality (“Jews for Jesus Blues”) to antiseptic European post-human technophilia (“The Sound of German Hip Hop”). His mystical streak brings out the woozy rambling poet in him (“Fill Me With Your Light”), but Barzelay is at his most effective when he goes straight for the kill, Elvis Costello-style (“Something Beautiful”).