It seems that members of New Wave bands from the 1980s spin off one of three things-- obscure pop culture references, film composers, or even more obscure solo acts. Marc Moreland was the driving force behind much of the music in the band Wall of Voodoo and has since been involved with several other projects, like Department of Crooks and Pretty & Twisted before this, his final release that came out mere days before his untimely death.
Voodoo fans most likely already have this and in some ways, it seems like what the band might have played had they been a little older and not surrounded by the typical synthesizers and keyboards typical of bands from 20 years ago. Moreland has a mellow voice that often descends into a near-mumble, and his often crotchety lyrics are a bit of a surprise given how his previous acts tried to be a little more subversive as to the meaning of their songs. "PS California" is essentially a tirade against the state's increasing annoyances, such as hearing ice cream trucks in the early morning and the inability to drink in public.
Anyone who has heard Moreland's guitar work on other albums, especially 1997's Plan 9 from Las Vegas, has a rough idea what to expect here. The keyboards, goofy sound effects, and guest vocalists are gone and this is a more stripped-down and mature sound for him. As such, it's not a particularly fun album, but it does prove he has a great sense of humor and is still baffled and annoyed at the world around him right up until the end.
There's not a lot of variety on this album, but there's a lot to like. Covers of "Bette Davis Eyes" have probably been done to death, but if you're not already sick of it then its appearance here should be an enjoyable one. Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" really fits the album nicely, and the bulk of original tracks aren't destined to be lost classics, but will definitely please Moreland's existing fans.
While in some cases it seems like he's just promoting his fairly mild vices, it does drive the point home that this is not a guy who made a fortune off his old act, nor is it someone who is some great poet or philosopher. This is just a grumpy guy with a great tune.
October 20, 2003