Momus is odd like Beck, but he's been that way much longer -- since 1982, believe it or not. And even though his grooves aren't nearly as funky as they are folky, Momus still swings -- in a very queer way -- with nearly as much verve as the more famous Beck. But whereas Beck is a modern pop and R&B revisionist, Momus favors a wild-eyed, cast-a-wide-net deconstruction of all music, peppering his records with everything from warped sea chanteys to hysterical minuets. Momus's latest effort, Folktronic, is a weird, chaotic smudging of folk and electronic music that at times sounds like Serge Gainsbourg, at others like a less witty Robyn Hitchcock. With its odd looping beats scratching up against more traditional folk vocal stylings, the record is a reasonable move in the restless Momus canon that hits and misses in spastic musical fits and wanders all over the place lyrically. Yet, for a guy who has shocked and titillated with earlier efforts that dealt, rather starkly, with homoeroticism, necrophilia, and incest, Folktronica, in its weakest moments, is like a showing of Momus's poker hand. The approach is so obvious, his words so straightforward, that some of the "what the hell is this guy doing?" mystery that he'd always been able to hide behind is now stripped away. He now sounds like a grumpy artist who is no longer amused by hardcore conservative critique; one who has become so bemused by it that he's lashing out with all the venom he can muster. Still, Momus has never been about trend-hopping trips, so why expect one now? He's a do-it-for-me artist who has as much culture to assault now on Folktronica as he ever has: sex, people, Viagra, politics, and even folk and electronic music. Yet his vision is such a tough, acerbic, and intriguing pill to swallow on disc that one has to wonder just how on earth it'll all pour out when performed in a live setting. One thing's for sure, though: As folkies go, he ain't Bob Dylan, and he probably doesn't want to be.
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