Neal Pollack & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts

Neal Pollack & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts

The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature


Uninhibited hubris is the impetus behind this spoken-word CD, a vicious but comic mockery of fame and success in the age of celebrity journalism. Supported musically by The Pine Valley Cosmonauts (most notably Jon Langford of The Mekons), Neal Pollack waxes poetic about his confessed private obsessions, each being one of a series of imaginary, outlandish accomplishments. As he recounts his literary and lifetime exploits in the six-minute introduction, for example: “I wrote my own version of The Bible, which sold well, and was adapted into a Tony award-winning musical.” Later, having dominated every field in which mankind endeavours, he snorts cocaine “off the pulsating ass of a porn star.”

Which is all highly amusing ñ up to a point. But the egotism begins to wear thin halfway through this hour-long album, and the jokes become tired. Pollack’s voice starts to grate like the automated phone answering services (e.g., “If you are calling about a self-centred author who’s released a CD accompaniment to his so-called collected writings, press 2…“), making this release less poetic and rhythmical than monotonous and dull. Furthermore, the random associations such as sleeping on jagged glass, etc, while working as a journalist in Albania, etc, are ad nauseum tales with less punch and sense than the standard Monty Python sketch.

Pollack does manage to skewer the journalistic/literary busybodies who are either 1) mingling with fellow literati, 2) off on another dashing assignment, or 3) letting you know about it; and he has a right to be dismissive of their dubious celebrity. But does it merit an entire album? And does he really have the right to point fingers, however subversively, when he’s been touted by the self-important McSweeney’s and signed to a major publisher? To me, it seems like a case of the pot calling the kettle…

Bloodshot Records:

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