Lyrics can be one of the most powerful art forms on the planet when they come directly from the heart and are free of any external corruption or influence, but to say that their ability to rouse our emotional senses is restricted to the strength of their rhyme alone is simply ludicrous. Lyrics are complicated, multilayered structures that requite a lot of care, thoughtfulness and attentiveness from their writer to really translate the feelings that are behind them, and even when a composer pens a collection of words that dig deeper than most, they’re ultimately meaningless unless accompanied by the right musical backdrop to accentuate their statement. The Cerny Brothers have never been known to tackle any of their projects halfheartedly, and their latest album Looking for the Good Land is no different in this sense. What is different about this release is that in its twelve tracks it encapsulates the soulful groove of its composers better than anything they’ve released so far. The Cernys have spent the last three years following the release of their album Dream cultivating their craft, removing all the filler, frills and non-essential attributes that were keeping it tied down to this generation and made something that transcends the period in which it was conceived. Its music and lyrics go hand in hand, and to call it anything other than a deeply engaging listening experience would be criminal.
The Cerny Brothers didn’t leave anything up to chance with Looking for the Good Land, and though some critics might find their attention to detail a little more than meticulous, I for one found it to be starkly refreshing in this age of imitators and re-creators. I listen to a lot of new artists in my line of work, and while a handful of them are great, a few of those are special and one or two of the remainder are stars, the overwhelming majority of artists that I spend my time with are making music that isn’t their own. They’re trying to follow the populist trend of the moment, and no matter how disingenuous their music might be, I’m left to write something about it because it’s all the big labels will promote nowadays. The Cerny Brothers don’t strike me as the attention-seeking type, and while Looking for the Good Land is a very ear-catching record, its subtleties and tepid commentaries are exactly what make it so superior to the output of the band’s closest rivals.
Whether it be the honesty of “I Wanna Love You” which is now receiving national airplay, or the cynicism and regret of “American Whore,” Looking for the Good Land is an emotional, provocative and seriously contemplative record that some listeners will deem a hard pill to swallow, but for those of us who live for stirring melodies and themes that go beyond discussing who’s breaking up with who, it doesn’t get much more fascinating than this. To be clear, I do not think that Looking for the Good Land is The Cerny Brothers’ swan song; quite the contrary actually. I think this is their transitional piece, their White Album if you will. This is the record that sets up the golden age of their recording career, and if you’re curious to know what they’ve got in the queue for American indie/folk fans next, this is a good album to consult for insight. The brothers are set to hit the road this month with
Thomas Patton, III