Based out of Denver, The Czars have two full-length albums and several EPs under their belt. They’ve also headlined several European and U.S. tours and have shared the stage with The Flaming Lips, Calexico, Hem, and David Gray, among others. The band’s latest album, Goodbye, was first released out of the UK in 2004, but is now being released by Bella Union. Overall, Goodbye is rife with creativity and is a blend of alt-country and pop with electronic flavor.
Starting off is the disc’s title track, which is more of a musical invitation to the rest of the record than a farewell. It combines minimal pomp with maximum effect; John Grant’s soothing vocals have the ability to sound understated and eloquent. But the lyrics are a little cryptic and border on the edge of creepy. “I’m waiting over here just to see you, my love, for the last time. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. I love to see you fade and die. I love to see you kicking, screaming as you try to reach the sky.” Hmm…I can’t say I get this one.
On “Hymn,” Grant’s lyrics lay over a choral hum and classical piano. The result is beautiful, and electronic chimes and female vocals make their way in by mid-song, which speaks about the theme of change and feeling far away from home. “Little Pink House” is a bit more jazzy than the rest of the collection – and effectively so. A group that can hold their own over a sax as well as they can over electronic samples shows flexibility. Like “I Am the Man,” “Trash” is guitar heavy with an electric solo as well as lyrics that lend to a breakup song. Grant’s words are definitely raw here and could be taken as offensive by female listeners. Tinkling piano keys lead into the next few solemn-sounding tracks, with strings and an all around rich instrumentation.
The fact that they’ve stayed around for so long shows that The Czars success is not built on being trendy – they are simply fantastic musicians who value artistry and who will meticulously piece together an album to showcase all sides of their talent. Though the lyrical themes may lack maturity and decorum in places, this album is worth the re-release, and countless new fans are bound to discover the hidden jewel that is Goodbye, now available in record stores everywhere. Pick up a copy and mellow out.