Parents with kids of reading age are unavoidably aware of Lemony Snicket, since his thirteen Series of Unfortunate Events books, about the orphaned Baudelaire siblings, have sold millions. But few know that Snicket leads a double life as an indie-rock accordionist named Daniel Handler.
Handler plays frequently with iconic musician (and old pal) Stephin Merritt of the band Magnetic Fields (most notably on Merritt’s three-CD 1999 masterwork, 69 Love Songs). And Merritt has been returning the favor by collaborating with Handler on a side band called The Gothic Archies, whose Tragic Treasury is just out on CD.
This is one of those rare crossover records that works for both adults — particularly fans of indie-pop, mordant wit, and lush neo-folk instrumentation — and little kids.
The Unfortunately-inspired songs here take a certain deadpan delight in human suffering, with Merritt layering his mournful, Johnny Cash-esque baritone over often improbably upbeat synth-pop. Who knew couplets such as “This abyss, this lightless void / This abyss of world destroyed” and choruses such as “Die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die” could be so catchy?
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