Ted Leo reinvents himself as a suave crooner in the "Can't Go Back" video - WXPN
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Ted Leo | still from video

Jersey indie rock fave Ted Leo returns this fall with The Hanged Man, his first record in seven years and a pretty tidy summation of everything he’s done in his career.

As Kickstarter backers who got an early copy of the album know, it runs the gamut from abrasive anger to contagious joy, from the hooky power pop of The Pharmacists to the introspective folk of The Both. Lyrical themes are less rooted in the political furor of his past work and more in reflective introspection as Leo sings about getting older and realizing the changes in the world that come with age, but also feeling solace in that. And then there’s stuff we’ve never heard him do before.

By that, I mean “Can’t Go Back,” a zippy piano pop song that I swear I mistook for Ben Folds Five on first listen. This is not a bad thing, just massively unexpected. This is one of the cuts that hones in on those themes of a progressing world, taking the outlook of the-past-is-the-past-is-the-past, but slyly making fun of it in a music video where Leo dresses up as a gaudy 70s crooner. As he sings “how many times I’ve run this way and still it runs me down, but I can’t go back,” it clicks into place: this worldly sentiment could, in 2017, be a political statement as well.

Listen below, and see Ted Leo and The Pharmacists kick off tour at Union Transfer next Thursday, September 14th with Amanda X opening. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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