Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Damien Rice: 9 [Warner Bros., 2006]
The tortured melancholy bit takes a back seat on the tardy follow-up to this Irish bard's well-loved 2003 debut--on part of it, anyway. Not that Rice is cracking any jokes, except for the mean one about sitting on a chimney. But after unveiling three more of the love laments whose loveliness lifted him from the singer-songwriter morass last time--the opener, "Crimes," is unforgettable--he gets actively angry and sweetly lyrical on four tracks that culminate in a galvanizing imitation of Polly Jean Harvey's galvanizing imitation of testosterone-fueled desperation. Then comes the accurately entitled "Grey Room" and the weepies get him. You're an eloquent fellow, Damien. There's sinew and backbone in your voice. So just tuck your heart back under your lapel and the acutely entitled "Accidental Babies" might actually win her back--properly framed, that "Do you brush your teeth before you kiss?" could be a pretty affecting line. In fact, it almost is anyway. [Rolling Stone: 3]