Ted Leo and his Pharmacists are sweeping the nation's rock and roll scene. People first began to take real notice of Mr. Leo with the release of his second LP, The Tyranny of Distance, however a few may remember Leo from his days with Citizens Arrest and Chisel. With a growing fanbase and critical acclaim to fuel their creative DeLorean, the RX kids headed back to the future for 2003's Hearts of Oak. Hearts was, like Tyranny, met with critical acclaim. With one of the best pop songs of the year, 'Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?', Ted and company collected even more new fans looking for a little Leo in their lives.
The next single off of Hearts of Oak, 'Tell Balgeary, Balgury is Dead', is the lead track off of the EP of the same name. 'Balgeary' isn't of the same caliber as 'Rude Boys', but is still a strong pop song. The song kicks off with a few simple chord progressions paired with an organ, and follows with Ted delivering a great melody with his in and out of falsetto vocal style. It's a good song, maybe not the best on Hearts of Oak, or even the second best, but it's definitely an admirable pop song from an admirable pop songwriter.
At this point, the Pharmacists leave to go play NES, drink coffee, sell prescription drugs to minors, you know, whatever pharmacists do in their free time, and Ted is left to his own devices. If you've seen Ted Leo live recently, he might have been playing all by his lonesome, so you'll have a good idea of what to expect from the rest of this EP: energetic solo performances, a few covers, and a few new songs. The second track is a one man version of what I thought was the most logical choice for the second single off of Hearts of Oak, 'The High Party'. The lacking of the Pharmacists is felt on this version, but luckily, Ted handles the song alright by himself. It definitely doesn't top the original, but it is something you might want to hear if you missed out on seeing Ted play live solo.
Through out the EP, Ted breaks out a few covers that have become a staple of his live show, the first being a rousing cover of the Pogues' 'Dirty Old Town', that replaces its Irish-folk roots with simple guitar-driven pop. He also injects his style and charm into both the Jams' 'Ghosts' and the Split Enz's 'Six Months in a Leaky Boat'.
This EP offers what a lot of single-based EPs fail to offer, a fair amount of new, original material. Leo throws out three new songs for your delight, the first and best of which being 'The Sword in the Stone'. Even if this song is never rerecorded with the Pharmacists, it is sure to be heralded by his fans as a favorite. 'Bleeding Powers' is an admirable effort, but doesn't match up to 'Sword' or a number of other good Leo songs. Part of what makes Ted Leo Ted Leo is the clever and intelligent sociopolitical commentary he delivers in his songs, and 'Loyal to my Sorrowful Country' delivers just that, along with a nice hook, and a "WOOHOO!". I really don't know what's going on with '(Decaying Artifact)' or the hidden track on this EP, but it sounds like Ted is refurbishing some of the dumb noise that helped make his first, critically panned EP all the more terrible.
Some decent covers, a few good, new, original tracks, and a strong single make this EP a worthy purchase. Aside from few parts of confusing noise, this EP is just another example of why Ted Leo is going to be a household name someday soon.
8.6 / 10
Their first record for Matador; their first record featuring new bassist Marty Key: The Brutalist Bricks is a record of firsts. It's the band's second shortest record, however (2004's Shake ...
Like a well-deserved punch to the face, a breath of fresh air in a smog-ridden city, or indeed, a good musician amongst a plethora of bad ones, Ted Leo and ...
Posted Jan. 26, 2019, 8:59 p.m.
The Changeville Festival, a music and arts festival geared toward social change, will take place Feb. 7-8 in Gainesville, FL. The event takes place in the city's downtown and ...
Posted June 5, 2014, 7:52 a.m.
The Bouncing Souls will play a joint anniversary show with The Stone Pony venue in Asbury Park, NJ. The Bouncing Souls, interviews by SPB here, celebrate 25 years and The ...
Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:
Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.