Other People’s Lives
Just when his urbane influence can be heard so clearly in the latest batch of UK bands, here comes Ray Davies with his first full studio album post-Kinks. He experienced renewal while living in New Orleans, and his characters and concerns are back, vivid as ever. The songs rock furtively, with the juiciest dose of power chords turning up on “The Tourist,” right after he murmurs “money, money” like a mantra. On it and “Thanksgiv-ing Day,” the details are drawn as fluidly as in a painting by Hopper. “Stand Up Comic” vents his spleen on yobs who get “bollocks!” but puzzle at Noel Coward, whose spirit is never far from Davies’ work these days. When he declares, “You’ve all been watching too much television,” the acidic wag is leavened with fatherly warmth.