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Design By Humans
Published On: Mon, Apr 23rd, 2018

The Motels: Last Few Beautiful Days

The Motels
Last Few Beautiful Days
(Sunset Blvd Records)

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Sweeping strings and the chimes of a clock start “Punchline,” the opener of The Motel’s new album, Last Few Beautiful Days. Leader singer, songwriter, original member Martha Davis is in fine voice, maybe slightly more limited than in her MTV-heyday when this band was hitting it out of the park with “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.” But the band — guitarist Clint Walsh, drummer Eric Gardner, bassist Nicholas Allen Johns and sax, piano and clarinet player Marty Jourard — provide some nice counter keyboard melodies, soft guitar work, and a steady beat for this first tune while weaving their tight 80’s-sounding tapestry throughout.

Things kick up a bit with the fast paced “Lucky Stars,” a jangly little pop ditty with a solid harmony-rich chorus and trilling keyboard layered ending. “Look At Me” presents a key wash with a slow sax lead from Johns all under Davis’ broken-heart desire. Many of these 11 tracks seem to be about some sort of romantic longings or ruminations on love.

I like the last three tunes especially, different as they are from the heavily arpeggiated, synth-laden string washes that make up lots of the first half of the album. “Criminal” sees Davis talk/singing over Gardner’s beat, slow effects from the sax, and hits from guitar and keys. It’s very stark indeed. “Nobody” has a sly, noir-like vibe to its beat and Davis singing with a slight growl. Walsh is especially on fire here. The title track ends with Davis singing to Jourard’s piano backing, with Johns sailing in with a sax solo near the end.

This 13th studio album from The Motels is pretty much mining the group’s classic sound and Davis’s wistful word play. Good stuff overall.

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The Motels: Last Few Beautiful Days