The Czars

Goodbye (Bella Union)

Autumn. To some, it's all about chestnut hues, rustling leaves and the realization that all things must wither to be reborn. To others, it's the year's lowest tide of serotonin, a constant struggle to keep razors out of veins and shotgun muzzles away from dental work. The Czars' timely new disc, Goodbye, falls somewhere in between. The quintet (which will celebrate its record release on Friday, October 22, at Rock Island) has always trafficked in a teeming, almost vibrant kind of gloom, but the textural expansion that began with 2001's The Ugly People Vs. the Beautiful Peoplehas spread the band's sound a little thin here. Too many jarring digital flourishes sap warmth and color from the band's swirl of twang and atmosphere. Still, its skewed elegance is inexorable. John Grant's sometimes overwrought vocals find just the right balance between bombast and delicacy, while his lyrics reach new heights of grace -- and depths of clever wretchedness -- on stand-outs like "Trash" and the Dark Side of the Moon-lit title track. Robert Frost's take on the change of the seasons was right: Nothing gold can stay. But the brooding melodicism and stark, brittle majesty of Goodbyewon't be fading anytime soon.

 
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