Picks and Pans Review: Edge of Allegiance

updated 11/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Timbuk 3

One can only speculate how harmonious Pat and Barbara MacDonald are behind the walls of their home in Austin. But creatively, this husband and wife team sounds wonderfully content on LP No. 3. The MacDonalds have always been keen observers of American culture, with songs like their 1985 yuppie send-up, "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades." Last year's Eden Alley was a spotty effort, but here they've sharpened their satirical knives. Patriotism gets diced on "National Holiday," when Pat and Barbara sing in apathetic voices about the mindless observance of Memorial Day and other events with galas where "Mad Dog and his band of jerks/Are lighting off the fireworks." Their purposely subdued singing style gives more weight to the sardonic lyrics of "Standard White Jesus": "Talking on telephones, across time zones/Paying the futility bill/Praying for rain, punching clocks/Changing the world like I change my socks." On "B-Side of Life," the MacDonalds manage to both satirize and lament Joe Everyman who picks up his dinner at 7-Eleven: "Tonight's my birthday, let's have a party/I'm 30 with a bullet on the B-side of life." Musically the duo gets a fuller sound from their usual pared down, prairie-pop style. That may have been the handiwork of producer Denardo Coleman (Ornette's son), who coaxed some hard-edge funk out of his old man's band, Prime Time. The album's last cut, "Wheel of Fortune," asks rhetorical questions about romance and uses Vanna White's ticket to Tinseltown as a wry metaphor. "Are we both aiming for the same place?" they sing. "Are we both trying for the same prize?" In Pat and Barbara's case, if it was a lucky spin of the wheel that brought them together, they've shared their good fortune widely. (I.R.S.)

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