The Czars - Goodbye


A quirky little wonder.



With a name like The Czars and with a cover like this one, where ponsey little mannequin boys stare out of shop windows in blue tuxedos, you'd expect to find inside the type of angular guitar pop that have made Franz Ferdinand the darlings of 2004. But you'd be wrong. Wrapped up in this little cd package (if indeed this is your format of choice) you'll find a quirky little wonder. It begins with a gentle piano interlude before breaking into the gorgeous title track, which brings Wish You Were Here era Pink Floyd to mind and contains some wonderfully spiteful lyrics. "Goodbye Goodbye Goodbye/I love to see you fade and die/I love to see you kicking, screaming/as you try to reach the sky and die."


Paint the Moon sounds like the result of putting Calexico and Nick Cave in a room and giving them a pot of valium for nourishment. The Hymn begins with some spooky oohs and ahhhs but ends up being something that sounds like a cross between Mercury Rev and Matmos, which means it's a melancholy tune with lots of chirps and clicks going on in the background.


My Love is the most beautiful song I've heard all year, with John Grant's baritone voice surrounded by some wonderfully delicate guitars and drums as well as some East European radio interference. It contains some great lyrics as well.


"He read to her from his poetryBut that could never be enough to really make her seeSo he climbed up high into a treeAnd made the choice to turn into a leaf."


Trust me, when you hear him sing the word "le – eee – eee – eeeaf" you'll fall in love too.

Some more mournful piano twinkling introduces Little Pink House, a wonderfully sleazy blues number that starts off sad and lonely and heads downward in the most majestic fashion. We're only a few tracks in and yet Goodbye is proving itself to be a delightful piece of work; but then I Am The Man comes in and ruins the whole atmosphere. I Am The Man isn't a bad song, it just doesn't seem to fit here. It has some of Grant's most viciously spiteful lyrics after all, "I'm not just a man/I am the man you can't have." The problem I have with it is that the venom contained in the words is diluted by having the vocals sang through a vocoder. It's as if the band thought it was too harsh and so decided to sugar it up a bit. On it's own, it would be a decent little tune, but it seems out of place here.


Trash is a great put down song, playful in tune and sassy in vocal; it builds up to a frantic, ridiculously overblown guitar solo that you won't be able to stop smiling (or laughing) through. I Saw A Ship is so good I'd mention it in the same breath as the best work of Nick Cave and Tom Waits without flinching. Los is another melancholy gem. "I want you to remember me/For things I never did/'Cause none in this world deserves/To see my happiness." There's just nothing like a bout of self pity is there?


Bright Black Eyes somehow manages to mix Gospel and Country without making me scream and run out of the room, but I still think the less that's said about it the better. Then the last track, Pain, comes out of nowhere; well actually it sounds like it comes from Modesto California as this is a Grandaddy song in everything but name and it's bloody marvellous. Three and a half minutes of perfect pop, complete with catchy hook, catchier chorus and lots of electronic gloops and whirls over the top. Excellent stuff.


All in all Goodbye is a remarkable album, hampered by a bizarre running order. I Am The Man would sit a lot more comfortably next to Pain, but then those two tracks are far too upbeat to sit comfortably alongside I Saw A Ship and the rest of the melancholy stuff on here. The best thing to do then, is program your player to change the running order and you'll be listening to one of the albums of the year. Nuff said.


Words : Damian Leslie