Hawksley Workman

Meat (Isadora Records)

Like a lot of Hawksley Workman fans, my feelings about his musical output can be likened to those of any tempestuous long-term relationship. I've been chasing the dizzyingly brilliant heights of For Him and the Girls for over 10 years now, and although there's been times I've been on the verge of dumping him completely, I just can't quit him, that wily bastard. His latest release, Meat, is the first of a two-album concept (the follow-up, Milk, will be released later this year). Like most of his albums over the past decade, Meat has a few clunkers---"French Girl in LA" is cringingly artless, while the radio-friendly ballad "The Ground We Stand On" is just flat-out cheesy. But the album's standouts make its few crappy moments fade into the background. "You Don't Want to Break Me (You Want to Tear Me Apart)," with its Lou Reed-style soul chorus and wolfish screams, will remind you why you fell in love with this guy in the first place. Songs like this are the reason I keep forgiving Workman's transgressions---for all his inconsistency, he remains one of this country's modern-day musical geniuses.

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