Clem Snide | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Everybody hates a happy ending, so Soft Spot, the album of quiet love songs that Clem Snide singer-songwriter Eef Barzelay wrote for his wife and newborn son in 2003, aroused some distrust among indie rockers committed to romantic dysfunction. The band's new, darker End of Love (SpinArt) should win some of them back; Barzelay recently moved from Brooklyn to Nashville, but his guitars have never sounded heavier and pricklier, and neither have his lyrics. On the slinky "Something Beautiful," Barzelay reels off hatefuck threats like "You make me wanna fold the map improperly" and "You make me wanna block out the moonlight and turn off the sun." But from the disc's opening line ("You're so sophisticated / Your mind's been liberated") to the parting shot on the closing track, "Weird" ("You're not as weird as you'd like me to think"), Barzelay also seems to be winking at the gloom hounds who were so impatient with his embrace of domestic bliss. Barzelay's sexy-nerd voice is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, but it can express a lot of nuance, which reflects his understanding that life isn't about either despair or ecstasy. When he follows up "Jews for Jesus Blues" ("Now that I'm found I miss being lost") with "God Answers Back," he's suggesting that there's no such thing as a happy (or sad) ending 'cause there's no such thing as an ending so long as you're still living. Archer Prewitt and Marbles open. Fri 3/11, 9 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 312-559-1212, $15.

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