Wow, if ever there were a case of one side of a record being really pretty good and the other side totally sucking, this would be it. Franz Nicolay used to be the keyboardist in Hold Steady and the accordionist for World/Inferno Friendship Society. The first side of this record (appropriately labeled “The Fun Side”) is heavy on the World/Inferno vibe, but the second side is slower and really, really not my thing. But I think the whole record might be redeemed by one song: “The Ballad of Hollis Wadsworth Mason Jr.,” about a character in Watchmen, a DC comic book series/graphic novel. If this were a cereal, it’d be kasha (a Russian cereal, in keeping with the general Eastern Europe folksy vibe of the first side (really and truly, just think World/Inferno on this one), followed by some sort of cereal that would indicate slowness, maybe something overly ponderous. Special K Vanilla Almond? My cereal references are failing me here. Oh, the tragedy.
–maddy (Team Science)