Speak Of The Devil
It's no coincidence that Chris Isaak made his name soundtracking David Lynch's seminal cracked road movie [I]Wild At Heart[/I]....
Those effortless, broken-heart ballads may boast the emotional pathos of a Tuesday afternoon, but hell, they're catchy enough. With 'Speak Of The Devil', Isaak brings us 14 new songs of love, loss and - yes, you guessed it - yet more highways.
Like the classic cowboy hero, Chris flits from town to town having affairs but never settling down. It's an unconvincing conceit, but the cough mixture-smooth vocals soothe one track into the next, making 'Speak Of The Devil' harmless enough. Ideal for a Tucson truckstop - but even better at a line dancing club in North Shields.
But there are problems. 'Black Flowers', for example, may seem to owe a great deal to the similarly titled Manics track, but still somehow sounds like Billy Ray Cyrus doing Joy Division. Or the way finale 'Super Magic 2000' thinks it's a widescreen Ry Cooder epic when it's actually claustrophobic elevator music.
And although some elements of the Sun Studio sound that characterised 'Heart Shaped World' and its beguiling singles remain intact, glossy production values all but obscure the ghosts (Roy Orbison and Elvis) that haunted his most successful moments.
Meaning that, all in all, these songs taste far more of swimming pool chlorine and air-conditioning than blood and whiskey.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday