erasing clouds

LD & The New Criticism, Amoral Certitudes EP

reviewed by dave heaton

Though he’s released music with a few bands (Flare, the Moth Wranglers), LD Beghtol also of course sang on the Magnetic Fields’ immortal 69 Love Songs, and wrote an excellent “field guide” book to the same. His music with LD & The New Criticism isn’t too far removed in tone from that epic, with smart songs that bear a fascination with words and ideas, plus an appreciation of timeless pop songforms. Amoral Certitudes is a 16-and-a-half-minute continuation of the band’s 2006 album Tragic Realism, and just as good.

The EP starts with a brief new-criticism theme song of sorts (a “Love Theme”), before a series of catchy pop songs that also carry with them ideas. They’re pop songs about love, but also in love with words and what meaning they do or don’t contain. “What You Will”, a duet with Miss Dana Kletter, carries questions of definition and essence (“how do the good hearts beat / can you separate them from the bad?”), while also seeming like fodder for a Dear Abbey advice letter. The lovely “If I Think of Love”, a Lisa Germano cover, plays as a list of words, as Beghtol notes on the back cover, but also a story of heartbreak. Similarly, “Sex Surrogate (the E-stim version)” is partly a litany of rhyming words, but also a tale of someone seeking to buy the secrets of love, to be formed into an “unbesmirchable, certifiable…do-able, very pliable” lover. Its cover dresses Amoral Certitudes as a book, and it is one, with words forming tales and questions but also just words. Yet it’s also a collection of pop songs, ready to be heard and sung.


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