November 15, 2002

Test Spin: Owen

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When it comes to writing about pain, Elliott Smith is the master, Will Oldham the freaky uncle, Matt Ward the distant cousin, and Mike Kinsella the prodigal son.

Kinsella, who made his name in bands like Cap’n Jazz and American Football gives a more intimate collection as Owen, and it’s under this moniker that Kinsella brings us No Good for No One Now, a grumpy and honest album that listens like a Dear John letter reads. Indeed, even the track listing seems like a jilted teen’s online poetry journal: “Everyone Feels Like You,” “Poor Souls,” “The Ghost of What Should’ve Been,” “Take Care of Yourself,” etc. But the beauty — and perhaps the implicit sadness of the album — is that the music and the lyrics never seem contrived. On the contrary, the album can be described best as a genuine epistle. It is both a love letter to those who’ve hurt somebody and a quick note of comfort to those sad souls who’ve been jettisoned for something or someone better.

In “Nobody’s Nothing” Kinsella sings, “You put … your selfish tongue on my body/ but we both know who your mind’s on” while in “Everyone Feels Like You” he virtually whispers, “Tell your ex-girlfriend you need her at bedtime/ because you can’t sleep” Good advice? Who knows.

My advice: Pour yourself a double, watch television in nothing but your underwear, turn off the sound, read old love letters, and get this album — it’s as brilliant as it is depressing.

Archived article by Nate Brown