Tim Cohen is a prolific voice in the American lexicon of indie rock. Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll slap you twice. Between his output in Fresh & Onlys, solo, and as Magic Trick he’s pretty much always got something dropping on your doormat and the stark reality is that its rarely not worth a tug at your ear. On his latest under his own name, the first time he’s operating as such since 2010, he’s side-stepping his usual pop hangouts once again. The last time he donned his own name and threw it on the marquee of an album cover was for Captured Tracks’ Laugh Tracks, an album that became a springboard into his output as Magic Trick. As that band has taken on its own humid life, it seems that his given name is the preferred moniker for tonal temerity.
On Luck Man he doesn’t take on his usual pop pastures of love, fate, and loss, instead enacting a series of character sketches that take on odd diorama lives of their own. Its a move that could seem like it might invite a discordant album, but Cohen, being Cohen isn’t a typical pop purveyor and his idiosyncrasies have always been the heart of his songwriting. He’s able to lasso the three a.m. anxieties and empty belly feelings and grind them into the kind of satisfying sonic sausage that other songwriters would fumble with self-importance. The songs inhabit lives of their own, still imbued with Cohen’s moody musical sea changes, but hanging their through line on the gnawing raw nerve of bruised confidence amid stark surroundings. Cohen proves that whichever name he puts at the top, the listener is in for a dose of darkness served with just the right ripple of earworm vibes.
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