Essential New Music: Graham Parker & The Rumour’s “Mystery Glue”

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This is Graham Parker’s second album with the reunited backup band that gave his early albums so much fire and brimstone. They’re all older now, but they still pack a punch. Parker’s voice is thinner and decidedly less angry, but his sarcasm and cutting wit are intact. He’s also gained enough insight to toss a few barbs at his own head. On “Flying Into London,” he takes responsibility for screwing up a good relationship with a dismissive one-liner: “I never did notice when other people cry.”

Tunes like “Railroad Spikes,” “Long Shot” and “Slow News Day” address the fractured state of the world and personal relationships with a mature approach that borders on bemused resignation. Guitar player Martin Belmont and keyboard ace Bob Andrews shine throughout, adding subtle fills and accents that give plenty of sparkle to arrangements that still merge R&B and rock with hints of funk and reggae.

—j. poet