November 4, 2004

Test Spin: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

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Ted Leo, songwriter extraordinaire, has always been political. But now he’s pissed. On Shake the Sheets he returns with an anti-war theme that pervades the entire album. But where has “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone” gone? Ted Leo has sacrificed genius songwriting for incessant politicizing, so the album is decidedly less catchy and funky than his previous outing. It’s almost as if Leo wants to be in a punk band again, but the album’s production is even cleaner than before, taking away some of its earnestness.

However, Shake the Sheets as a whole is still incredibly listenable, and at points touches on greatness. “Bleeding Powers” gives us another one of Leo’s world-famous blistering guitar solos, and “Me and Mia” has single written all over it. And I wasn’t being entirely truthful when I said the funkiness had completely disappeared; check out the bass line on “The Angels’ Share.” But if you want to hear Ted Leo at his best, go get Hearts of Oak.

Archived article by John Penning
Sun Staff Writer