The Most Alluring Nightmare of the Year

Cass McCombs’ new album “Mangy Love” goes beyond brunch-friendly folk.

Cass McCombs
Mangy Love

Courtesy of ANTI Records/Pitch Perfect PR

Cass McCombs’ shimmering folk-pop is usually so controlled that he can easily be mistaken for a purveyor of soothing background music, when nothing could be farther from the truth. On the memorably pungent Mangy Love, he uses his mellow melodies and gentle vocals to create a sense of deep unease in tales of societal stress and personal struggle that are no less potent for their enigmatic lyrical inclinations. Like his excellent 2015 B-sides collection, this unsettling, darkly humorous set underscores McCombs’ deceptively eclectic approach, augmenting his brunch-friendly sounds with sour trance blues (“Rancid Girl”), jangly funk (“Run Sister Run”) and operatic grandeur (“It”). Meanwhile, casual references to blood in the streets (“Bum Bum Bum”) and utter disorientation (“Opposite House”) make Mangy Love a strong candidate for Most Alluring Nightmare of the Year.

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