They say the world is getting more violent by the minute so why not throw your guitar down and love violins. If you love that pun you might find yourself digging the new album Foxes & Hounds by The Sharp Things. Its literate rock served up with strolling orchestral flourishes that recall the days when AM radio was dominated by the Brill Building and Bacharach and David. While I tend to prefer Rick Nielson over Nilsson, The Sharp Things won me over with songsmith Perry Serpa’s maudlin yet melodic tales.
The album starts with a clarion call “There Will Be Violins” where the line about “the curse and the gift of seeing tomorrow” rolls off Serpa’s tongue like Irish whiskey. Horns, violins, and a percolating bass line turn “Homeless” into a pretty tune about a sad subject. “The Suicide Bombers” swings like a dramatic Seventies theme song with a muscular bass propelling the song toward the electric slide. Serpa is sometimes compared to Jarvis Cocker of Pulp and here one can hear why. Jim Santo throws in a jarring guitar solo for good measure on the highlight of the album. Psychedelic British whimsy rock is recalled on the “I’ll Always Be Your Loser, Honey”. Pop romanticism can’t break through the sad sack vibe on “These Dreams Of You Are So Much Sweeter Than The Truth” and we’re better off for it. “50 Heads Over High Street” could pass for a more ornate version of The Jam from their “Beat Surrender” era.
Typically I like to still sit at the kid’s table when big meals are served. A roomful of grown-ups can be damn boring. Make no mistake, The Sharp Things play grown-up rock and roll, but it’s never boring. Plus grown-up food tastes better and the chairs are more comfortable. Foxes & Hounds is available from Bar-None Records and other various music selling outlets.