As usual, Stew mines a deep reserve of musical influences to frame his tunes in an engaging pop setting, with touches of jazz, rock, R&B and Broadway. The resulting blend is part Bacharach, part Magnetic Fields and all good.
"Making It" kicks off with a brief instrumental that sounds like the theme to a TV show. Then comes "Pretend," a paean for pop: "Songs are dumb, but they don't lie," Stew sings. Later topics include methamphetamine ("Speed") and racial stereotypes ("Black Men Ski"), but the focus is on romance gone awry.
"Therapy Only Works If You Tell the Truth," one song title concludes, and the album's highlight comes during dialogue to conclude that tune.
"When did you first notice there was a problem with the relationship?" a counselor asks.
"Oh, when she left me," Stew replies.
By the finale, "Treat Right," Stew and Rodewald have called a truce, and the album ends with them singing in harmony.
Check this track out: Stew offers a twist to he-said-she-said on "Curse," when he and Rodewald take turns singing the same lyrics. The song rhymes nurse, hearse, worse, converse, terse and purse with curse all in one verse.