A master at indulging the exquisite ache of romantic longing, Cousteau comes off like an absinthe-sipping amalgam of del Amitri without the bitterness and Bowie without the coke. A lush, languid bitch-slap in the face of perky teen pop idols everywhere, this CD shimmers most menacingly when the subterranean stylings of singer Liam McKahey meet the literate (at least by commercial-radio standards) lyrics of multi-instrumentalist/producer Davey Ray Moor. Prime examples include "She Don't Hear Your Prayer," which if not for its 4:25 length could find itself on the next Melissa Etheridge platter (sample lines: "I wish I were you/Then I wish I were dead"). "Wish You Were Her" takes a similarly heartwrenching tack, closing with the irony-dripping assertion "I'm getting over you." It's also one of the few up-tempo tunes on the disc, although in Cousteau's hands ballads are hardly a bad thing. Cases in point include "You My Lunar Queen," a composition with just four lines of lyrics and barely enough instrumentation to make it from one beat to the next; nevertheless, it should be on the soundtrack to some deliciously depressing musical. "How Will I Know," on the other hand, sports enough pop hooks and R&B harmonies to make Elvis Costello fans yearn for younger days. But, in fact, Cousteau's retreading of fairly familiar ground stands as the CD's most serious flaw, followed closely by the combo's dogged refusal to get too excited over anything. Compositions such as the 5:51 "Mesmer" drag on for too long. But if you want a solitary evening of drinking at home (hopefully without any firearms available), there's nothing like a deep dive into the murky waters of Cousteau.
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