Fagen’s previous three solo albums were belatedly grouped together as a box set in 2007 under the banner The Nightfly Trilogy, taking its name from the title of his first major work outside of Steely Dan, released more than 30 years ago. If that implied the closing of a chapter before embarking on a fresh direction, then Sunken Condos is a bit of a puzzle.
If anything, the bulk of these nine new songs are closer in theme to The Nightfly than the albums that followed. Certainly, I’m Not The Same Without You returns to that landmark record’s raison d’être of a wide-eyed adolescent in awe of adulthood (“I’ve grown an inch taller since July/What in the world is going on?”), while Miss Marlene’s snappy jazz suggests a sequel to the youthful optimism of IGY.
Ultimately, this is an assured, witty and knowing set of songs, best exemplified by the confident swagger of Good Stuff, the mocking neurosis of Weather In My Head, and the repositing of Isaac Hayes’ Out Of The Ghetto to soundtrack an urban New York Jewish sensibility. It’s lively and listenable, but not especially removed from what’s gone before – though seeing as what went before was so wonderful, perhaps that’s not a bad thing.