Highlights: Slinky Thing, I’m Not The Same Without You, Out Of The Ghetto, Miss Marlene
Sunken Condos is, of course, all about taste. How else? The stylish, slick experience is as brilliant as it is unrevelatory: in fact, every bit the album you would expect from Donald Fagen, now or ever. Think Morph The Cat, think The Nightfly, think Aja, think Everything Must Go. Old-fashioned, polished, delicious – something you would have to take in over a period of time, late at night, preferably through good headphones.
Saying Sunken Condos is uneventful and sterile would just be missing the point. It is sterile (certainly) and in melody department it is relatively uneventful and has nothing on those first few classic albums by Steely Dan. But come on: you don’t go to Donald Fagen for catchy singalongs. You go for the style. With its immaculate production, rich and intricate instrumentation (the usual: funky basslines; super-clean, jazzy guitars; cool brass; smooth piano; even some terrific Eastern-flavoured violin towards the end of “Out Of The Ghetto”) and nocturnal grooves, it will entangle you like a favourite old movie.
Quality-wise, the album is very even, with maybe only the rather routine, predictable “The New Breed” falling somewhat short. The others are uniformly stellar Fagen creations, in luxurious frames, straight from a museum wall.
So overall – a near-perfect Fagen experience. Lazy, slick, slinky (hell yeah), amazingly addictive. And you have to love that title. Sunken Condos. Perfectly captures the mood and the sound of the whole thing.