Kevin Morby's fourth solo album is inspired by metropolitan experiences traveling across America and beyond. He says: "It's a mix-tape, a fever dream, a love letter to those cities that I cannot get rid of, to those cities that are all inside of me".
Paradoxically, considering it's about populated places, it mainly explores themes of isolation and solitude. Crybaby, for example, finds him "all alone on a crowded street" and the singer (and unidentified partner) are still tearful in Dry Your Eyes.
Come To Me Now is a low key opening in which Morby desperately wills the night to come. In the title track, the lines "Oh that city music, oh that city sound" are repeated ad nauseaum over a Tom Verlaine style guitar riff.
An ode to The Ramones (1234) and a cover of Germs' Caught In My Eye liven things up a little but it's all mostly a low key affair. <
It strikes me that Morby is so clever at stealing ideas from others that none of the songs come across as truly his own. Lou Reed is one vocal style he apes brazenly and the arrangement of a track like Tin Can also includes plenty of Velvet Underground references. The problem is that this only serves to emphasize that Morby is more of a doleful hipster than a streetwise poet.
Downtown's Lights ends this downbeat album in a forlorn manner but the fact that all this was recorded in a Californian studio with an ocean view makes the cynic in me think that all this tortured 'woe is me' melancholia may actually be a bit phony.