One part Oscar Wilde and one part Kermit the Frog, Clem Snide's Eef Barzalay has a voice all his own. On 2001's Ghost of Fashion, he trod the thin line between clever and too clever, keeping on the right side of things primarily because even his sometimes wizening wit couldn't take away from the basically open-hearted impulse of his songs. However, Soft Spot, the new Clem Snide album, is pure Muppet: Recorded in the afterglow of the birth of Barzalay's first child, the album is a rainbow-hued collection of unapologetically mushy tunes (one is even called "All Green").
Ironists may grit their teeth and groan at the naked display of sentiment, but Clem Snide's music is as artful as ever, a quieter simplification of the band's palette of jazzy textures, alt-country instrumentation, and basic rock-song structure. Now that the tot has probably reached the teething stage, his dad may be sharpening his own bite, in kind: Don't be surprised if the merry punster reemerges when Barzalay performs these songs live.