Amused, Confused & More Bad News is the third full-length from Seattle area act The Purrs. EvilSponge has been enjoying this band for about 5 years now. Each of their releases is a sonic treat, with witty vocals delivered in vocalist/bassist Jima's wry and vaguely high-pitched manner over a miasma of guitarwork. This is a band that has taken what the Brits were doing in the 1990s and expanded upon it.
The album begins with a one-two punch of two of their best songs ever. The record starts off with an echoed piano hit, a distorted guitar riff, and Jima exclaiming that he can, in fact, do better than his Sister. Apparently the man has some family issues, and here the band howls out his frustration at sibling rivalry. A great, rocking start to the record.
The next tune though, is even better. It is called Fear of Flying and is a big, spacious song in the typical Purrs vein. It reminds me of Frozen In Time or I'm Leaving Today from their two previous records. It is that distinctive Purrs sound that takes the inherent whininess of Jima's voice and pairs it with a distorted guitar. However, when the band hits the chorus on this one, they ascend to levels of sheer catchiness the likes of which few bands can ever achieve. Fear of Flying is a perfect song for singing along to in traffic.
The next few songs are good distorted rockers. They pale in comparison to what comes at the front of the record, and at times the guitarwork slides too close to blues rock for my tastes. I am thinking of the lead bit on Stay Here With Me, which could have been from an Eric Clapton tune, or Baby I Want You Back which makes me think of The Black Crowes for some ungodly reason. Then there is A Century of Rain, in which The Purrs slow down the tune, which i think works for the Grapes-like lead guitar part.
However, The Purrs hit a sour note on the seventh track, Big Black Wall, which is the sonic sibling of Junk and Jil, which i disliked on 2007's The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together. This almost hits a country level of guitarwork. Ugh.
Fortunately after that misstep, the distortion is back for The Outpost, which grinds along at a great pace. The Purrs follow this with Mostly, a long and somewhat repetitive tune that moves along at a very slow pace, as does Good Times To Come. Finally, The Purrs wrap up the album with 2 minutes of Pink Floyd-esque psychedelia on Jolly's Return. This is a lovely end to the record. I wish that they recorded more stuff like this.
Personally, i find this album to be the most hit-or-miss of the four Purrs releases that i have heard to date. It has some of their best work in Sister, Fear of Flying, Jolly's Return, and The Outpost, but too much of the record seems to revel in more straight-up blues with less distortion than i prefer from this act. And there are too many slow songs here – The Purrs can really tear it up when they get going, and i wish that they did so more often on this record.
Who knows – perhaps in the long term the slower numbers will become something i enjoy more. In the few months i have had this record they have not appealed to me, but sometimes finding enjoyment in a record is a very lengthy process. Still, this is a worthwhile release, i just know that they can do better. Maybe if they asked Jima's sister to help out...