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Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power and the Amorphous Strums 

Dark Developments

The pairing of Athens stalwarts Vic Chesnutt and Elf Power yields lingering, autumnal melodies and songs that elude expectation. Dark Developments sways with a natural and stylistic drift toward the melancholy side of Chesnutt's allegorical songwriting. But the buoyant pop rhythms and mellow psychedelic textures of each number tussle with nihilism, culminating in a gray and wintry body of songs. "We Are Mean" is the album's Rosetta Stone, laying out the tensions that arise when these vibrant songs are brought to a point by such a dreary narrator. "The Mad Passion of the Stoic" and "Phil the Fiddler" unfold at the lumbering and difficult pace of the greatest Southern authors. As such, Dark Developments is as spectral and haunting as William Faulkner when he was on point, or Flannery O'Connor when just skirting the dark side. Five stars.

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