With the advantage of hindsight, Soul Coughing seems like the kind of group that could have only achieved success in the ’90s – an alt-rock, jazz rap slacker pack dabbling in almost-dadaistic poetry, leaning as much on quirk and novelty as a sense of rhythm.
It’s incongruous that the same group that wrote “Circles,” included on Soul Coughing’s third and final LP, “El Oso,” also gave us such unusual offerings as “Super Bon Bon” or “Bus to Beelzebub.”
A lot of the vibrancy of the group’s first two albums, “Ruby Vroom” and “Irresistible Bliss,” is pruned for accessibility on “El Oso,” which means “the bear” in English.
“Circles” manages to be irresistibly catchy, as do “Houston” and “St. Louise is Listening.” But where the supporting tracks were amusing on “Vroom” and “Bliss,” a lifelessness creeps in on tunes such as “Rolling,” on which M. Doughty’s unenthused delivery reads as disinterest rather than coolness.
It’s understandable why Soul Coughing decided to close shop after “El Oso.” The group, with all its eccentricities, had its window and it was closing as the end of the millennium drew near.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.