United Kingdom

by: American Music Club

American Music Club's first indisputably great album, the import-only United Kingdom is also the band's most spare and unsettling work. Originally conceived as a collection of site-specific songs (hence the opener, "Here They Roll Down," which samples the sounds of a freeway off-ramp), the LP instead cobbles together leftover material and live tracks which fuse together into a remarkably cohesive and balanced whole. Among the highlights: "Heaven in Your Hands" ranks firmly as one of Mark Eitzel's most beautiful and unguarded love songs, while the lounge-flavored "Hula Maiden" finds the singer at his most perversely comic; the solo acoustic "Never Mind" details an emotional free-fall, while on the lush "Dreamers of the Dream," Eitzel clings to one of the record's few rays of hope as though his life depended on it. ~ Jason Ankeny

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