Fagen's fourth solo album has all the trappings we've come to expect from his white boy jazz-funk-pop: thick inverted chords, clean production, smooth but energetic grooves, wry lyrics, excellent craftsmanship and musicianship. Co-producer Michael Leonhart's contributions can't be overstated (this album appears to be as much his as Fagen's). There's just one thing missing here: melodies. Granted, every song doesn't sound like One Note Samba, but there's some that are close (I'm looking at you, track 8) and there's certainly nothing I whistle after the album is over - no danger of earworms here. Still, I like the grooves better than those on Morph the Cat so I'm digging this album a little better than its predecessor. It's too bad I always compare everything Fagen puts out to The Nightfly, but I can't help it. The professional music critics loved it, but I'm not in that club. I'm not blown away, but I'm not skipping any tracks, either.
Here's an interesting account of part of the recording process from the harmonica player, Will Galison: http://www.willgalison.com/willgalison/Sunken_Condos_2_2.html
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #12
Tracks: My top picks are I'm Not The Same Without You, Memorabilia, Miss Marlene, and Planet D'Rhonda. The cover of Isaac Hayes' Out Of The Ghetto sounds great, but do you really want to hear an AARP member sing those lyrics? Maybe that's a weak attempt at humor that I'm just missing.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None for this album, but I can definitely recommend that you skip Fagen's 2013 book, Eminent Hipsters, of which the last half consists of ranting diary entries about his 2012 tour (in which he doesn't perform songs to promote this album - wha?).
Previously revisited for the blog:
Morph the Cat (2006)
The Nightfly (1982)