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Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009

The Subdudes

Flower Petals (429 Records)

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Delivering their second Katrina-anniversary-timed album in four years, New Orleans’ Subdudes continue to explore a water-themed, working-class-sympathetic, minimal-pop take on their city’s roots. And if they’ve all but dropped the full drum kit since 2007’s Street Symphony, the drumbeat of dread and resigned woe remains.

The best moments from the ’dudes, who open with a literal crack of thunder before settling into lite-FM bounce and Buffalo Springfield-from-Cajun-country groove, approach something like polished-up acoustic outtakes of The Band. But there is also the maudlin “Standing Water,” which, replete with the line “standing water produces a poison, that seems to run around, to every mind in town,” might lead the nominees for soppiest-ever Katrina tribute. There’s also an out-of-nowhere matrimonial creed brimming with ill-timed happiness and saccharine “ooh-ooh” backing vocals. And, on “The Shepherd,” just far too much lute.

Sonically, Petals is a pleasantly woozy wash of acoustic guitars, accordion and shakers. But like the city itself, there’s not enough solid ground to hold all the pieces through the weakest moments.


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