When A Guide To Modern Living came out I was already a gigantic fan of The Odd Numbers due to their prior record Jazz Cigarettes. I played that one to death and was really eager to add another record to the collection. Well, technically it was a CD at the time, but you get the idea. For whatever reason, A Guide To Modern Living just didn't resonate with me the same way. I never listened to it much and eventually sold away my copy during one of my CD prunings of the mid 2000's.
When a friend of mine was unloading the last of his record collection, I perused to see if there was anything I needed before the inevitable sale. He had a copy of A Guide To Modern Living, so I decided to give it another shot. I'm glad I did as I like it a lot more now than I did the first time I listened to it twenty years ago.
I will contend that the highs are still not as high as the ones on Jazz Cigarettes. There's certainly no song that is the caliber of "So Many Girls," but Modern Living has its own charms, despite some missteps that are probably the reasons I didn't like it when I first listened to it. The pace is quick and the songs are the sort of bouncy mod that you'd expect from the Odd Numbers for the first few songs. It's really what they're best at. From their things do start to meander. You've got weirdly arranged songs like "Clubbin'" an even weirder dub version of it called "Dubbin'" and probably more acoustic numbers than should be around.
While the slower songs just don't hit, the faster, poppier ones land every single time. I can even appreciate the lesser songs more now within the context of the album. Sure there's a few strange detours, but as a whole, it's a solid listen.
The Odd Numbers - A Guide To Modern Living (You Tube playlist):