Friday, December 08, 2006
Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2006: Number 24
As Dan Michaelson admits, there's not a lot you can do with a smoky baritone croon like his, below Nick Cave's bassy voice while more decipherable than Stuart Staples. Instead of working round it, the songs and their characters it's used to portray on Schmotime seem built around it, generally seedy, world-weary bastards. Like a less self-lacerating Aidan Moffatt, Michaelson takes Elvis Costello's 'revenge and guilt' creed, or at least the latter half of the equation, and takes it out of the barfly's hands into the home drinker surveying the wreckage, often while someone waits in the bed upstairs. Witness how the swing of You Try Sober complements Melinda Bronstein's airy declarations of love only for Michaelson to turn the tables and declare that she's only saying it through beer goggles and the inevitably once up to speed of songs called There's A Body In A Car Somewhere or the outstanding single We Should Never Have Children, where we're guessing the kids' choir weren't kept fully up to speed with the consideration of the uselessness of trying to achieve something in this situation.
Musically there's plenty of interest to prop up the smoky air, treading the line between alt-country, of the Rock'N'Roll Ryan Adams or pre-madness Wilco sense, with zipping melodic indiepop guitars that lie somewhere between late Dinosaur Jnr and Pavement at their most readable. Sometimes it's used to counteract the message, but when it clicks it's as visceral as the at least mildly scabrous lyricism. Closer Treacle starts with wistful lap steel before halfway through gradually bursting from its chrysalis into a charge to the close that seems to invoke a return from despair to normality. Some would call it gloomy, but what makes it all work is that pinch of optimism at the core of a sound that feels troubled, knows it does and knows how to act upon it but can't quite make the connection.
LISTEN ON: You Try Sober
WATCH ON: Something To Bang video; We Should Never Have Children live
READ ON: Comfort Comes caught up with Dan at the tail end of last year