Dick Stusso is the last cowboy at the disco. In his Stetson and snake skin boots he stands at the bar clicking his fingers in time to the drum machine beat and looking out into the veil of dry ice, tracing the shadows of his fellow men. He follows you with sad eyes and a wry smile.
On In Heaven, his sophomore missive, Stusso (Nic Russo, in reality) slowly unleashes his self-deprecating misanthropy at the world. Modern Music, with its unsettling dirgeful bass, sharpened guitar and warm baritone, sets the tone: “Nobody wants to look at the dark heart/And I don’t blame them/Nobody wants to look at the dark heart/Myself included/I’m just looking for a good time/And a little cash.”
The twisted, despondent beauty that sits at the heart of this album is best exemplified on the stirring, soulful Well-Acquainted. Its whispered serenity betrays a disquieting search for direction in a chaotic world: “Keep tired of thinking about it/You know what I mean/It’s all overdone/It’s all obscene”
Then there’s The Bullshit Century Pt.1, which for Quiff wins best song title of the year even without consideration of the insouciant glee with which it mutates from faded crooner glamour into frazzled country blues. It’s a song that’s half dark and half droll. Music so obvious and yet so unlike anything else that it’s joyous. Dick Stusso is the last cowboy at the disco, singing of serious things but never taking himself seriously.