Which one’s Tom? Watching Alabama beat combo Thomas Function
scorch a clubful of hipsters this summer, I was struck by the sheer, unbridled
joy pouring off the stage; here was a band choogling its heart out, intent on finding
the musical “g” spot for all assembled. In
the Valley of Sickness is the studio-spawned product of a year’s worth of
nonstop touring for the group, and it’s a leaner, meaner, more mind-expanding
mojo machine than 2008’s Thomas Function.
From a throbbing slice of Floydian sun-surfing (“When I Was
a King”) to jangles ‘n’ fuzz anthem “Ew Way Ew” to the oddly angular,
hard-twanging of “Magic City” (which, with
the singer’s slightly unhinged yelp, suggests a nifty cross between the Velvets
and the Elevators). A few tangential forays contain uneasy echoes of the
previous album’s genre schizophrenia, but for the most part, this is the kind
of sickness you’ll want to live with. What’s your function?
Standout Tracks: “Magic City,”
“Ew Way Ew” FRED MILLS