The underground music world has come to see Michael Coomer in a markedly different light in recent years. After his manic garage pop outfit Harlem went on hiatus following the release of 2010’s underrated Hippies, Coomer suddenly found himself left to his own devices. That might sound daunting, but not only was he unfazed by having to figure out his next musical move, he also seemed plenty ready for it.
Working under the moniker Lace Curtains, Coomer released The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness in 2012, a surprisingly diverse affair that found the singer cooling his garage punk inclinations in favor of a more subdued and ironic approach. It worked well enough that Coomer’s follow-up as Lace Curtains follows a similarly smooth yet off-kilter trajectory. A Signed Piece of Paper twists and turns through different pop rock avenues, from the warm, toe-tapping ’70s groove of opening track “The Fly” through flirtatious trysts with bossanova (“Kali”), ass-shaking dance rock (“Glass of Sand”), melodic indie pop (“Pink and Gold”), and brooding art rock (“Boardwalk to the Alps”). And because you can’t completely turn away from the past, Coomer includes one scathing garage rock rager amidst the record’s nine tracks, “Saint Vitus”.
More than deliver a refreshingly diverse slate of songs, Coomer also flexes some clever lyrical muscle. The downtrodden ’70s pop jam “Wilshire and Fairfax” is named for the intersection where Biggie Smalls was killed, leaving the singer to profess contemplatively that he “just wants to know what Heaven’s like.” Elsewhere, he’s busy taking potshots at psuedo-intellectuals (“Go to Starbucks and find a genius typing up his masterpiece,” he goofs on “Pink and Gold”) and even himself. On album closer “Crocodile Tears”, Coomer refuses to let himself off the hook, even to someone seemingly willing to accept his flaws: “You catch my flies with honey,” he says, “but who wants to catch flies?”
A Signed Piece of Paper is a curious grab bag of quirky musical ideas, but it’s a fun and interesting one. Could the record benefit from a little more continuity? Maybe, but part of the fun is watching Coomer shapeshift at will.
Essential Tracks: “The Fly”, “Pink and Gold”, and “Glass of Sand”