Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Given that its concept is the end of the world, I guess it's no surprise that there are themes of disappointment running throughout Al's long-awaited latest CD.

Ooh, that sounds like a criticism, but I meant it literally.

Craigslist is about a guy who sounds rather bitter at the world. If That Isn't Love and Whatever You Like are both about guys who don't really sound in love with their girls.

Skipper Dan describes the promising career of a gifted young actor, doomed instead to suffer a career leading tours in a theme park. I'm not complaining, but in one of Al's more positive albums I'm sure he would have found and celebrated the joy of working on a family ride. After all, the music to this track sure seems to love the idea. Hardware Store this ain't.

The production standards on here are second to none as usual, probably improved even further by Al's willingness to break with his own format and avoid getting weighed down by his usual recent formula. There's no shaggy dog story on here, no movie plot (that I'm aware of), and precious little mention of food. There's still a polka number though. Well of course there is. I mean who'd buy it without that?

The second disc here is a DVD containing videos to a whopping 10 of these 12 songs. These are kind of hit and miss - too many of them featuring cheaply animated cut out faces - but the hits certainly carry the others.

TMZ - a counter-strike against the paparazzi - is a bittersweet song in the first place, but director Bill Plympton transforms it into a highly uncomfortable ballad of a woman gradually losing her soul. With these pictures, this is the closest Al has ever come to releasing a song that is serious.

Craigslist is the only live-action video, and as such excuses all the animated ones. It's absolutely spellbinding, and just the sort of Yankovic weirdness that I love to lose myself in. Another Tattoo and Whatever You Like both brainstorm themselves into justifying their non-human visuals too.

However my favourite number on the whole album is unquestionably Ringtone. It's a tribute to the rock band Queen, and as such is every bit as fun as that group's heyday. I wish the track broke off midway through for a lot of actual ringtones to take over à la Bicycle Race, but you can't have everything.

Al, you've unquestionably still got it, though I do hope it brings you a little more joy next time. :)

Track listing:

1. Perform This Way.
2. CNR.
3. TMZ.
4. Skipper Dan.
5. Polka Face.
6. Craigslist.
7. Party In The CIA.
8. Ringtone.
9. Another Tattoo.
10. If That Isn't Love.
11. Whatever You Like.
12. Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me.


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