Young Fresh Fellows – Tiempo de Lujo

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 5)

This was the band’s twelfth/thirteenth record, and they’ve had the same line-up since 1988. That’s impressive longevity and consistency. Due to any number of reasons, they have slowed down considerably, of course. They released six albums in the ‘80s; three in the ‘90s; two in the aughts (I am not counting I Don’t Think This Is, which is barely different than I Think This Is); and then just this one since 2009. I’d love to hear more (I saw Kurt Bloch play live with Scott McCaughey in the Minus 5 in 2019, so maybe there is hope?), but am very happy with what we’ve gotten so far. 

What I Think of This Album

This album is closer to their earlier, carefree work than to the more buttoned-down approach of “comeback” album I Think This Is.

Opener “Another Ten Reasons” is an excellent slice of power-pop, though the solo at the end is silly. “Tad’s Pad” is unfortunate nonsense, best skipped. The meaty opening riff of “A Fake Hello” signals this as a Kurt Bloch tune (co-written with Seattle musician John Ramberg (I think) – who plays with Fellows bassist Jim Sangster in the Tripwires). Bloch deserves to get more songs on these albums.

The band pays tribute to various types of six-strings (e.g. “a new Korean Epiphone;” “White Falcons;” “tobacco sunbursts”) on “So Many Electric Guitars,” (which also namechecks the imploded Kingdome, as well as, slightly more appropriately, the Clash, Wings, and the Beach Boys); Hutchinson’s tom rolls here are ace. But first, they pay tribute to a pair of dermatologists, at least one of whom was real and advertised on the New York subway, with “Cleflo and Zizmor;” the harmonies and gentle bass pinging are wonderful, and the lyrics are hilarious yet humane (“call now, ugly whore” is only one of those two things, however).

Things sag a bit in the middle, with two songs that sound like they came from a Minus 5 album – “The Say Goodbye Center” and “(Life is a) Funeral Factory” – and one that features an almost metal lead guitar part (“Death of an Embalmer”).

Things pick up again as the band re-embraces the ’60s nostalgia hinted at on “Tad’s Pad,” (which, again, is a dumb song). “Love Luggage” borders on parody, as if they were trying to meld Donovan and a Nuggets band – but it’s fun and the scream at the end is pretty cool. Meanwhile, the airy “Margaret” (sample lyric: “Margaret is agoraphobic / That’s why she’s not coming out”) sounds like a lost track from The Who Sell Out.

Ultracatchy “I Don’t Know Why” is more classic, sprightly power-pop, with a buttery bass line and nifty little solo from Bloch, as well some great harmonies during the outro. Finally, “Broken Monkey” is a downcast but thoroughly enjoyable endpiece.

Hutchinson co-wrote half the songs on this album, which is a record for him, and fortunately did not involve Chris Ballew in any way (unlike as on prior releases). FYI, Dr. Jonathan Zizmor retired in 2016, and was once offered a cameo on “30 Rock.”

The Best Thing About This Album

“Margaret” is the American granddaughter of the Who’s “Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand” from 1968.

Release Date

August, 2012

The Cover Art

Pretty good. I get a slight 1977 punk feel from this; if there had been dynamite strapped to the clock, it would have been a definite 1977 punk feel. I like the use of a song title for the clock name (great font for that), I like the broken hands, and the main font works, as well as the bright palette.

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