It’s hard to believe that Travis Matte and his motley Kingpins crew have been at it for eight years now, releasing on average one CD a year. Matte’s eighth disc bears similarities to the zyde-frat rock tendencies of previous efforts: party tunes and risqué themes, though the latter is toned down considerably this time out. The bell-tingling “Ice Cream Truck” is the best of the double entendre lot, mainly since the entendres are so deceivingly, yet artfully applied. There’s also an apropos tune about “cougars,” not the animal, who are always fair game fodder.
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Still, there’s a decent amount of sonic diversity in the original song material and arrangements. Several tracks are supported by a sludgy, heavy metal-ish edge (“Price is Right”) while some hint at new wave influences like “Get Up,” featuring an impressive, ultra-clean acoustic guitar solo by Matte, who plays every instrument on a few tracks. Occasionally a synthesizer ride takes you back to ’70s prog rock groups like Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, all unusual blends for something that’s zydeco based.
Yet Matte’s not always the party boy on the prowl. “The Price of Freedom” deals with a young father tragically killed during wartime service. It’s particularly moving — a child thinking her father will return someday while the family bears more of freedom’s burden than most of us ever will.