The Proclaimers have been down a long road since they proclaimed they would walk 500 miles and then 500 miles more just to fall down at your door.
In the two decades since the single “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” climbed to No. 3 on the U.S. charts, the identical-twin duo of Craig and Charlie Reid have journeyed on with their musical career without the benefit of any additional, significant American hits. But The Proclaimers have maintained the backing of U.K. fans, and with their newly released ninth album, “Like Comedy,” the Scottish siblings, who turned 50 in March, are stepping aside to take a philosophical look at life.
Their punchy folk-rock sound is a little softer these days, but their charismatic brogues are thick as ever as they play out what essentially feels like a Zen musical.
“We are simple things, we are,” they note on the music-box lullaby “Simple Things,” an unassuming notion confirmed in the uncomplicated, gentle soul of “Dance With Me” and the existential “There’s,” which checks off a series of observations starting with “there’s” and concludes with, “There’s you – and there’s me!”
There’s more. Relationships are “a mix of pain and happiness … it’s over much too fast” (from “A Mix”), love isn’t bound by geography and time (“Wherever You Roam”), and hedonism is hedonism , even if it shifts from ice cream and football to women and wine to … well, a little less women and a little less wine (“Women and Wine”).
Other bumper-sticker ideas are offered with sincerity, including, “The air that you breathe will be there after you’re gone” (“After You’re Gone”) and “Make the best of here and now … You were made to be happy” (the title track).
Musically, folk and pop and rock are hybridized, accented with an up-tempo marching drum here (“Whatever You Got”) and mandolin there (“Spinning Around in the Air”).
The Proclaimers are unlikely to score any broad U.S. hits from this release because there simply isn’t much outlet for this kind of theatrical material. The Reids are used to that by now, however, and if the lyrics of “Like Comedy” are any indication, they’re absolutely fine with it.
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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