Nick Cave, the other marquee star here, is also erratic during his solo piano set, with the one-joke "Dead Joe" falling flatter than the somewhat more substantial "People Ain't No Good" and "Black Hair." The rest of Liss Ard is standard festival fare: bombast from Jack Lukeman, troubadour moves from David Grey and Nick Kelly, and traditional Irish music from the Frames. The high points, however, are high enough to create demand for a second volume of Liss Ard. Here's hoping that it documents the 1998 edition, which included triumphant sets from Lou Reed, Spiritualized, and a Bad Seeds-backed Cave.
This giddy debut platter is a dash of prog, a pinch of bubblegum, and a whole lotta Freddie Mercury yelping. Not a whit of self-concerned angst in this man's arsenal, just a whole lot of groovy, highly orchestrated, and highly cliche pop songs. The emotional range of the dozen tracks here travels the long road from cloying ("You're My Everything") to more cloying ("If You Sleep"). But you know what? Who the hell cares?
Bachman Jr. writes melodies so infectious they're viral, and his ornate arrangements are unabashed in their desire to be loved. It took me two weeks to get the rising harmonies of "I Wonder" unstuck from my lobes, and they've been replaced by the deliciously wimpy guitar riff of "Romanticide." This is music to love and be embarrassed about loving. I've stopped fighting it. So will you.