Up-tempo desolation that leaves you beautifully miserable...
The Beauty Shop have received favourable comparisons to the likes of Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Violent Femmes and The Handsome Family with their penchant for lo-fi country noir. If you were unlucky enough to miss out on The Beauty Shop the first time around, fear not. The Illinois three-piece release the appropriately titled 'Yard Sale', which sees them having a curious rummage through their two previous albums (2002's 'Yr Money Or Ur Life' and 2004's 'Crisis Help Line') to put together a new collection of singles and album favourites.
Opening track 'Monster' begins with pretty, picked acoustic guitar, with a misleadingly summery feel and up tempo drumming, while John Hoeffleur takes you unawares with the surprising depth and warm American vocals that send you weak at the knees, culminating in beautiful acoustic county pop. But 'Death March' is a distinctly slower number, and behind the sexy inflection in Hoeffleur's voice there is a slight sense of desolation; but while there's something distinctly 'noir' about this song, don't let its title put you off, as it still manages to shuffle along nicely (they're saving the real tear-jerkers for later...)
2005 single, 'A Desperate Cry For Help' laments having allowed life to slip through your fingers, while 'I Got Issues' incorporates some of The Beauty Shop's characteristic down beat humour; yet both indulge in a more pointed country sway and a hint of a drawl in the vocals, with country-tinged electric guitars being added to the mix of shuffling drums and swaggering bass line. While 'Babyshaker' and 'Rumplestiltskin Lives' are some of the most fast-paced tracks on the album and continue to experiment with poppier rhythms, catchy melodies and a more rock 'n' roll sound, The Body Shop's piece-de-résistance is most definitely their slower, stripped-down style, which they showcase perfectly in the emotional depth of 'Science Lights' and 'Shell Game'. Poignant, picked acoustic guitar melts your heart as the lonely, longing, late-night contemplation found in the smouldering lyrics leaves you feeling beautifully miserable.
A fantastic and soul-searching collection of songs that depress you with their sense of desolation while simultaneously raising a smile with their dark humour; a must for folk, country and acoustic music fans.