Since the 1990s, Clem Snide has been “an on-again, off-again vehicle for singer/songwriter Eef Barzelay’s wry, country-inflected songcraft,” said Will Hermes in Rolling Stone. Three years after disbanding Clem Snide, Barzelay has resurrected the band to release Hungry Bird, its completed-but-shelved sixth record. The group continues to explore the territory between country and indie rock, but with a few surprises. The opening track, “Me No,” “sounds like Michael Stipe fronting Pavement,” and evolves into a “meditation on maleness and morality.” At the midway point, “Encounter at 3 AM” is an interesting and smart collaboration with Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Franz Wright. Tracks like those put Hungry Bird “firmly into the category of listenable art,” said Lavinia Jones Wright in Billboard. There are some low points, such as the “Counting Crows-esque ‘Born a Man,’” but Hungry Bird’s polish, matched with Barzelay’s familiar “whine-tinged vocals,” make this a “welcome return to form.”
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