Album Review

Crazy Clown Time

Crazy Clown Time

by David Lynch


6 / 10
17th November 2011

Reviewed by Chris Jamieson


Hellish, dark, phantasmagorical - such things describe the film works of acclaimed director David Lynch, a man who embraces the surreal and unconventional about as easily as most people find comfort in sanity. His directing prowess well established, he’s spent the past couple of years attending to his musical interests. Previously working with the likes of Dangermouse and Sparklehorse (RIP), he has now released his his debut solo album, the ludicrously named Crazy Clown Time.

Albeit dark, Crazy Clown Time is a surprisingly fun album. It’s 100% Lynch, save for Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) making an appearance on the first track. There’s a claustrophobic feeling throughout, with beats and hushed vocals crowding the atmosphere. A haze settles over most of the tracks, like a dark fog, causing a somewhat muffled sound. It’s strange, that’s for sure, but what’s most surprising is how simplistic it all is. Lynch doesn’t mess around too much with the mechanics of his songs. Unlike his films, everything makes sense, and everything works sort of, well, predictably. It has a slightly uneasy delivery, but all together the album has fairly conventional mechanics.

Crazy Clown Time sadly wears out its welcome fairly quickly. In its seventy minute runtime, there isn’t much to break up the monotony save for Lynch’s varied usage of vocal manipulation. Vocally, Lynch isn’t much to write home about. His voice his high pitched and strained, but he does a lot with it by setting a certain tone and mood. Instrumentation is scarce, with a guitar and occasional feedback being the most used. The rest is heavily electronic, with dub and techno-like beats and rhythms accounting for most of what are heard. Various samples poke their heads out from time to time as well. Lyrically, Crazy Clown Time is what one would expect from Lynch: dark, unsettling, and completely bizarre. Themes are obfuscated, as he often sings in a very ‘stream of consciousness.’ They’re strange, the lyrics, but somehow completely fitting.

The album has its fair share captivating; engaging pieces, but it also has a bevy of duds to match. ‘Strange and Unproductive Thinking’ comes to mind, as it is less a song, and more a track in tune with say, ‘Fitter Happier’ from Radiohead’s OK Computer. Robotic vocals sing lightly over a modest track, speaking of dental hygiene as well as other things that come off as hackneyed and contrived. It feels like filler, which is a little disappointing considering it is in good company. ‘She Rise Up’ and ‘Speed Roadster’are songs much in the vein of ‘Strange and Unproductive Thinking’, feeling like decent ideas stretched far too thin during their over-extended playtime. Yet not the entire album is a let-down, as Lynch proves himself more than once to be a capable songwriter. The opener, 'Pinky’s Dream’ is what the entirety of the album should have been - weird, dreamlike, and absorbing. Karen O adds a great deal to the overall moodiness of the track, with the lyrics being some of the most interesting on the record. The title track is another standout, feeling very psychedelic in its execution. Lynch’s vocals here are weirder than ever, and an uneasy atmosphere blankets the whole thing. It’s moments like these where Lynch seems most comfortable, and the songs are indicative of it.

Crazy Clown Time is in no way a complete misfire, but it does seem like a bit of a missed opportunity. Lynch’s debut could have been a bold, attention grabbing affair which displayed his warped creative process and strange outlook on the world. Instead, only a few selections truly fit that sentiment, with most of the album flying completely under the radar. It’s tragic really, as Crazy Clown Time could have been a wondrous and weird experience, but instead it merely exists as a passable, if not underwhelming pop record.




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