Album: Ian Hunter

Shrunken Heads, JERKIN' CROCUS
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The Independent Culture

"I am What I Hated When I Was Young", reckons Ian Hunter, but the way he expresses it here, it's hard to believe he doesn't derive a certain satisfaction from it. After all, an undertow of similarly trenchant cynicism marked some of his work with Mott The Hoople and his brutally-honest Diary of a Rock'n'Roll Star, so the grumpiness of songs such as "Fuss About Nothin" and "When the World Was Round" seems merely a matter of degree. The fire in his belly burns undimmed, judging by "Soul of America", an attack on American imperialism delivered with Springsteen-sized anger as he mourns the casualties of the Iraq campaign: "It's a godawful job, but it's got to be done/ Protecting the soul of America". But it's the self-awareness in "I am What I Hated When I Was Young" and "Words (Big Mouth)" that redeems Shrunken Heads. The country-rock arrangements are perfectly built to bear the singer's apology as he asks forgiveness for a depression-fuelled argument. "It's just words, cruel little clusters," he begs, knowing that he'll say it all again when the black dog calls.