Big Shot Chronicles by Game Theory on AllMusic

Big Shot Chronicles

review

by Mark Deming

Scott Miller broke in a new Game Theory lineup on The Big Shot Chronicles (a revolving-door cast of musicians was something he would get used to over the next decade or so), and if the album lacks the narrative cohesion of the group's first full-length effort, Real Nighttime, it's obvious from the album's first cut that the addition of Shelley LaFrenier on keyboards, Suzi Ziegler on bass, and Gil Ray on drums made Game Theory a stronger band in every respect. While Game Theory's attempts to rock out on Real Nighttime sometimes sounded a bit tentative, The Big Shot Chronicles reveals a band that's equally adept at flexing their muscles ("I've Tried Subtlety" and "Make Any Vows") or easing into a song's subtleties ("Regenisraen" and "Like a Girl Jesus"). As a songwriter, Scott Miller continued to grow ("Erica's Word" and "Don't Look Too Closely" are both smart pop heaven on Earth), and while he's fond of referring to his voice as a "miserable whine," he sure knows how to make it communicate. Finally, Mitch Easter's production guides the record through moody neo-psychedelia and up-tempo hard pop with an equally sure hand; the record sounds just as good as the band plays. A superb set from one of the best (and most underappreciated) bands of the 1980s.