Track This: Camper Van Beethoven's "Too High for the Love-In"

La Costa Perdida, the first Camper Van Beethoven album in nine years isn't quite as ambitious as 2004's stellar, yet under appreciated concept album, New Roman Times. More of a continuation of later Cracker albums; its lengthy tracks call to mind the sprawling Greenland or the California-centric Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey. "Too High for the Love-in" is a lengthy and weighty bridge between the last days of CVB and latter day Cracker. It's becoming harder to tell the songs apart. Most could as easily have fit on a Cracker album, despite their more exotic instrumentation. Evident proof that the band can still write a catchy hook., the song's eastern-tinged intro is reminiscent of early albums. Female vocals ba ba beneath a catchy guitar line before David Lowery's cracked and knowing vocals come in, singing "I was too high for the love-in./ I woke in my car at the drive in./ And there was a bird in my kitchen when I got home." Once the bird gets violent, we know we are in classic CVB territory.

The band's knack for clever instrumentation are juxtaposed as always perfectly against Lowery's lyrics that shift between the mundane and the absurd. The band, as always, efficiently mines bizarre material. When the song shifts to a bridge and the music swells, Lowery sings, "flying ambulance" before the track slows down to a near waltz tempo and he sings "Bring to me the anti-venom and make me a sandwich." These absurdities can only be found on CVB albums. The band is getting better and weirder with age. Although the music is often more straightforward as it heads into Cracker territory, the track is tight and fun. The band might not gain that many new fans, but "Too High for the Love-in" and La Costa Perdida show they aren't going anywhere. Old fans, the curious, and Cracker fans who only know CVB as that "Take the Skinheads Bowling" band will enjoy the craft and wit they bring to each new release. New Roman Times was a sleeper record in 2004, leaving many of us wanting more. La Costa Perdida will surely do the same in 2013.

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