Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinals III/IV

(Pax Am)

Rating: NNN

If you felt Ryan Adams’s lugubrious 2007 offering, Easy Tiger, was a little on the lifeless side, there’s a reason. It turns out he left most of his amped-up tunes from that recording session in the vault. Now he’s releasing them for no particular reason except that it’s been a whole two years, eons in Adams’s over-prolific world, since his last proper record. (That joke metal album doesn’t count.)

There’s plenty here to compare to his unfairly criticized Rock N Roll record: new wave influences, contemporary alt-rock. The difference is that Adams sounds comfortable rather than out to prove a point. It also helps that the supremely competent Cardinals can ably follow him through all his twisting musical tangents while making him better along the way.

Top track: Ultraviolet Light

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