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Archer Prewitt - Three

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Artist: Archer Prewitt

Album: Three

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Jun. 2, 2002

I hear rubber "four-square" balls bounce in 4/4 time. I see a little blond snapperhead skipping through his mom’s daffodil garden one sunsmooched day before his family’s week-long trip to Pawley’s Island, thinking about some cutey that wore a tiara to school that day, as if it was her birthday. I nod my head and snap my fingers. My eyelids ease halfway down. I don’t feel the least bit corny.

The sort of elegant, Anglophilic pop that Sea And Cake vet Archer Prewitt lays down on his solo shit is too classy to be bubblegum. But not self-involved enough to be invested at face value and retrieved for anything greater. It courts the senses with an instinctual attraction to a beautiful melody, through a thin veneer of sophistication. It evokes a faraway smile, not a shit-eating grin.

There’s a harmonica on “Over The Line.” “Behind Your Sun” is sprinkled with feisty mariachi horns. A coquettish troupe of female backup singers pops in on “Sister Ice.” But the gimmicks and gags are never primary. Hardly even secondary.

The album is mostly comprised of righteously dumb love songs. “You’re nice to know / You kind of flow / Girl it’s bound to shine / This thing of yours and mine.” From the first time that she really done ya, she done ya good, eh? “You can’t know / What it means to grow / Until you suffer from love / And all it’s highs and lows.” Unless the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out.

You’ve heard this shit before. Recently. From Rufus Wainright. Or Scott Walker. Or Nick Drake, circa Bryter Layter. Or The Delgados. One of those critics’ darlings. Or maybe you heard it from John Lennon, after the reconciliation with Yoko and immediately before he was rubbed out. Or on that Beautiful South CD you hocked eons ago, because, although it had some undeniably “good songs,” you thought it sounded cheesy when it tried to sound upset. Archer would too, no doubt.

If Archer Prewitt had a contract with Virgin, you might have borrowed Three from your friend’s girlfriend, the one who discovered Elliot Smith from Good Will Hunting and has followed Robyn Hitchcock since the early days of Perspex Island.

If he didn’t have a contract with Thrill Jockey, you might not have heard of him at all. Or be particularly interested.

Which doesn’t make these graceful ditties any easier to resist, if you’re that sort of romantic. Which isn’t something to hide, or smother in irony and trifling affectation.

By Emerson Dameron

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