The Ike Reilly Assassination

Back in 2002, Ike Reilly released what should have been regarded as a rock and roll masterpiece. Salesman and Racists wed the punky passion of mid-Seventies Clash to the restless lyrical brilliance of pre-Christ Dylan. Reilly has released three albums since, all packed with catchy songs you wouldn't want to take home to mom. We Belong opens with the expected blast of Celtic anarchy, before giving way to sounds that suggest Reilly might be softening up a bit in his dotage. Phil Karnatz's fretwork is as fuzzy and seething as ever. But these days it's tempered by Ed Tinley's lush organ fills. "You're So Fine" sounds like it was rescued from the vault under Phil Spector's bed, while the hypnotic "Charcoal Days and Sterling Nights" employs handclaps and a woozy trumpet solo. "It's Hard to Make Love in an American Town" is classic Reilly. At first you think he's singing about his own sexual jones. Four minutes later it dawns on you that the song is actually a chilling account of horny, working-class boys heading into the meat grinder of a senseless war.

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Steven Almond