Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid [Shake It, 2019]
Ten songs lasting 27 minutes recorded by Wussy's grand old man in two days total, often backed by a drum machine although Mark and Lisa chip in, as do half a dozen others including a flesh-and-blood drummer actually named Dylan McCartney. As with most Wussy albums, the tunes don't register as tunes at first, although the refrain of the opening "Terrible Friend"--"I'm a terrible friend," it goes--sticks before the song is over once. And then suddenly the tunes stick too, just like with a Wussy album. Not that they're uplifting or anything. Bypassing his spiritual high croon for his sober middle register, Cleaver sounds not so much glummer as darker than usual, and while the situations tend failed/doomed romantic, underlying them is a world where "The Weekend That It Happened" involved an ecocatastrophe, "Children of the Corn" recapitulates a horror movie, "The Night We Missed the Horror Show" was "just another night," and "If it looks like a hole it's probably a hole." A-