Even before you hear the martini-cool cafe-rock vibes of Cool American’s fairly Better than Ezra-approximating cavalcade of packaged laziness, the title of their last album (“Infinite Hiatus”) probably should have clued you in that these guys are siphoning the whole “slacker” zeitgeist as if drawing from their very back pocket. Well, and I wouldn’t make this up: I just listened to this band Coasts a second ago who had billed themselves on Facebook promo as something to listen to “If you like Coldplay”: not only did they have a single called “Paradise,” just like Coldplay does, but their album cover was even a dead-on collision with the heart on Ghost Stories. Then musically, it was like equivalent of dragging that dead guy around in Weekend at Bernie’s.
Anyway, similarly this new title Better Luck Next Year seems to ooze such meaningful, inspired apathy as to surely be nought a case of “studied posturing,” as Rob Mitchum of Pitchfork would say, but rather the love child of a unique vision: a lot of sitting around the house smoking weed, to be specific. After a precocious acoustic guitar/vox opener “Portion Control” which ironically should be heaped out in a larger portion as it currently stands at 1:20, “Kitchen Table” falls into the trap, at least in my Midwestern ears, of urbane yuppie comfort. Like I’m sorry, but going to get tested for marijuana use is not a noteworthy calamity, per se. It sort of reminds me of when Evidence is trying to be all hard core and says like “Never negotiate with weed on the table”. It’s like gangster edge, the Fisher Price version… though don’t get me wrong I love Ev still. “Late for the Sky” made my “Dolby’s Top 100 Hip-Hop Tracks of All Time.”
Anyway, back to Better Luck Next Year, with “Whatever,” “Clutched” and “Picking Sides” we trudge into a dangerously cavernous abyss of unprecedentedly boring singer/songwriter fluff, full of faux “romance” and unnecessary falsettos, sort of like the tactic Kurt Vile ingeniously employs to hide the vacuousness of his music. When Cool American is good, it’s through confidence, and when that confidence wears this what’s left is like a watered down version of Ben Kweller, which is a scary thought indeed.