Essential New Music: Chuck Prophet’s “Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins”

Chuck Prophet’s albums are noted for their literary lyrics, foreboding melodies and his ironic outlook. As if to underscore that point, he calls this collection of tunes “California noir,” and the album delivers on that promise with songs that explore the deteriorating American dream in all its faded glory. The title track is a cryptic rocker with a strong chorus and Prophet’s big, twang-heavy guitar echoing the tune of Bobby Fuller’s lone hit, “I Fought The Law.” A growling, metallic surf guitar and galloping backbeat push “In The Mausoleum” into overdrive, as Prophet looks death in the eye and laughs. “Jesus Was A Social Drinker” is a quietly blasphemous talking blues that imagines The Lord as an ordinary working-class guy. “We Got Up And Played” closes the set with the sad tale of a band on the road performing to an empty room, but putting on a good show nonetheless.

—j. poet