Album: Ray Davies

Working Man's Café
Click to follow

Where last year's Other People's Lives found Ray Davies perched on the cusp of optimism and melancholy, with this follow-up he seems to have fallen on the wrong side of that divide, his glass always half-empty.

Songs such as "Vietnam Cowboys", "The Real World" and the title track make Working Man's Café effectively Davies's equivalent of Modern Life Is Rubbish, bemoaning such corollaries of corporatisation as the enforced mobility of labour, the destruction of local identity, and the replacement of greasy spoons by coffee-shop chains – all valid concerns, but treated here with little of the wit or insight he once wielded. "Morphine Song", about hard times in the US hospital system, "No One Listen", about struggling for justice, and "In a Moment" are all inspired, if that's the right word, by his shooting, though only the latter song, reflecting on how a random moment of madness can turn one's life upside-down, has any resonance. It's all a bit like being badgered by a sandwich-board prophet of doom, except the sandwich-board man probably has the better tunes.

Download this: 'In a Moment', 'You're Asking Me'