Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains [Drag City, 2019]
"You see, the life I live is sickening/Just spent a decade playing chicken with oblivion," sings the eternally blocked, depressive, and monotonal David Berman 11 years after his final album with/as the Silver Jews. Yet he sounds sprightlier--the tempos quickened slightly, the tunes turned fetching, the jokes softened. "I Loved Being My Mother's Son" breathes a warmth, devotion, and detail truly corny songs never risk, and if his significant other is making friends while he's acting stranger, she obviously has a right. Even "Margaritas at the Mall" has the spiritual grace to blame those boozy not-actually-happy hours on a God who's a lot more "subtle" than he or she has any right to be. You tell him or her, David. Only then the man goes and kills himself. A