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Louis XIV: Of Delicacy and Dirt

"Hopesick" began as a ballad: It was written and recorded for an album by the twang-rock outfit Convoy, which disintegrated soon afterward. Convoy's Jason Hill, Brian Karscig, and Mark Maigaard would go on to form Louis XIV — a stripped-down rock band steeped in blues, glam, and punk — which gained notoriety for the sexually explicit lyrics and racy album artwork of 2005's The Best Little Secrets Are Kept.

On the recent Slick Dogs and Ponies, Louis XIV's members revisit their musical past, and two older songs ("Air Traffic Control" and "Hopesick") have benefited from time in the slow-cooker. The original "Hopesick" was appealing and honest, but it was also bare and broken, like a stadium anthem being played on a practice amp. The new version retains singer Hill's weary, cracking vocals, but fills the void with sure, thick glam-guitar lines and rich orchestral arrangements.

"Hopesick" itself stands in stark contrast to the lust-and-thrust of Louis XIV's previous releases, in the process revealing real, raw emotions surrounding drug use ("I need hope / I need help / I need dope"), unattainable love ("I love her, she loves me / but in my mind"), and the break-up of a band that's been together for years ("A new start / A new heart / I need a break"). The song is all dirt and delicacy, desperation and damage, love and loss, and it is as it always should have sounded.

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Caroline Evans