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The protagonist cannot be killed by any of the following characters: Bono Vox, Iggy Pop, Johnny Rotten, Henry Rollins, Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder, or the combination of Method Man and Redman. That information comes by way of “Silver Bullets,” a song by Justin Moyer, who leads a D.C. band called Edie Sedgwick and used to perform his post-punk songs in half-baked drag as Edie Sedgwick, the Andy Warhol insider. The fact that Moyer has nixed the makeup and dress only creates confusion. Who the fuck is/was Edie Sedgwick, and why aren’t any chicks trying to kill him/her? Courtney Love surely would want to get in on that shit.
And, really, fuck me for taking on this assignment of reviewing Love Gets Lovelier Every Day, the new Edie Sedgwick album, because Moyer is a critic for Washington City Paper and works at the Washington Post, and his glitter-caked, self-aware synapses are probably capable of composing a more insightful critique than I could ever hope to write. But this is my show, so I ask: Can he be killed by Joe Warminsky? Answer: Hell yes.
Jokes, jokes. Love Gets Lovelier Every Day is easily the best Edie Sedgwick album to date. The the songwriting is far more dynamic and the performances are far more welcoming than previous efforts—and if it sounds like Moyer (who led the bands El Guapo, Supersystem, and Antelope) isn’t trying as hard, it’s a good thing. On 2005’s Her Love Is Real…But She Is Not and 2008’s Things Are Getting Sinister and Sinisterer, he perfected a persona that cooked Hollywood tales into tart metaphors: The harrowing “Sigourney Weaver” probed the sexual politics of Aliens, “Mary-Kate Olsen” was a bitchy death-disco number, and so on. The beats were huge, but the level of agitation could be exhausting no matter how stimulating the rhetoric.
Love (available in reduced form as a 7-inch and as a full-album download) is relatively easygoing, not least because Moyer is surrounded by a band instead of electronic gear. He’s got full-time female foils now: Drummer Jess Matthews brings a human touch to the boxy-but-danceable rhythms, and vocalists Carla Elliott and Kristina Buddenhagen (also the bassist) are always there to bolster his catch phrases and choruses. They’re tightest on “Who’s That Knocking On My Door (Post-Czech Mix),” a slinky song about waiting for a vampire (metaphorical or otherwise) to show up on the porch. Moyer assumes the role of paranoid pop showman (think Men At Work) while retaining enough of his punk snottiness (think Violent Femmes).
Equally entertaining is “Natural Born Killers,” which unfurls from a sparse-but-upbeat bass/drums/vocals arrangement into a jangly coda. Its catchiness can’t hide the lyrics’ tentatively misanthropic core, though: “I don’t wanna pick a fight with you/Because I don’t wanna sharpen my knife in you,” Moyer claims halfway through. Soon the guitar comes in, and everybody is singing “look away!” as if true loathing requires a dollop of cold sympathy.
Elsewhere the album is engrossingly standoffish (“See Saw”), intriguingly guitar-heavy (the acoustic-backed “Shine a Light” and the Fugazi-meets-U2 “He Composed Lines That Frighten Stanzas”), and deliberately splashy (“Everybody Wants Some [Van Halen Mix]”). And even when Moyer gets totally weird or pedantic (“Mind Trip,” “Livin’ in the 21st Century”), he performs in a way that’s more “off Broadway” than “totally art school.”
Of course, every bulletproof frontman indulges himself eventually. The 12:40 “Medley” closes the album with a suite of mini-songs that quote pop tropes (“I want to feel you on the inside”), fuck around with R&B-style stage banter (“I had a dream, girl”), and borrow all sorts of indie-rock poses (Dischord seriousness, Yo La Tengo quietude). It’s a little much, but it puts Edie Sedgwick’s evolution in perspective. The way for the protagonist to survive, it seems, is to keep moving.