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Archer Prewitt | Three (Thrill Jockey)
One of my big discoveries of last year was The Sea and Cake [for the sake of credibility you should have lied and said you'd been a fan for years -Ed]. You know how it goes: you get all the albums (leaving the earliest until last) and then start dabbling in the members' solo albums. It was Archer Prewitt I first started exploring, for some reason, probably because he has a more impressive-sounding name than Sam Prekop. But, as it turns out, it's Prekop's solo album that sounds more like their band. Prewitt solo tends to sound sunnier and janglier and more 60s than Prekop, whose solo album has all the chilly perfection of The Sea and Cake, and the voice, and the sophistication. (I should point out here that 'chilly' here is in no way used pejoratively ?? I personally much prefer plain vanilla ice cream to, say, banoffee pie). Prewitt's warmer take is still more than acceptable, though, it's just a tad more summery and suitable for country trips than Sea and Cake usually, especially on this disc. Talk of a characteristic sound means we must ignore the strangely uncharacteristic, and unlovable, 'Gerroa Songs' record, which Prewitt himself seems to have forgotten, or disowned, by calling this, his forth solo album, 'Three'. His voice is a little beefier, too, though still fragile-sounding, and his music is very far from unsophisticated. He almost rocks out, for example, on the decidedly crunchy No Defense, which then does an early-Yes organ thing in the middle, honestly, before taking it down to a slow swaying lighters-out finally with many "oh babes" and girlie vocals. Sister Ice has the girls too, and a flute, and a gorgeous Steely Dan vibe. Other highlights amongst the good-value fourteen tracks include the lovely Arabic swirl that ends Gifts of Love and the jangly early-REM tinge of opener Over the Line. Fear not the spectre of unoriginality though, my friends, as we're talking here of fresh music benefiting from multiple influences and psychedelic textures, not exhibiting a slavish desire to just sound like music that's old. Mixing it up is always more fruitful than purity, don't you think?

Jeff Cotton
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002