David Lynch – The Big Dream
Unlike the somewhat schizophrenic, rather hit-and-miss Crazy Clown Time, David Lynch's new album sounds like a David Lynch movie. Perhaps it's the choice to root the songwriting in 12-bar blues, which so powerfully evokes the neon-lit roadhouse band of Twin Peaks; or the choice of Lykke Li as guest vocalist for bonus track I'm Waiting Here, which deliciously and wickedly nods to Badalamenti / Julee Cruise territory; or the understated dream pop of Cold Wind Blowin' and The Line It Curves, which easily trump Beach House at their own game.
Perhaps it's the fact that Lynch's voice is buried under a series of filters and effects: swaddled in reverb on the title track, and most memorably, squeezed and distorted into creepy, alien weirdness on Sun Can't Be Seen No More. Either way, it's The Big Dream which you could imagine being played in the Black Lodge; at one of Frank Booth's fucked-up house parties; or behind the bar at One Eyed Jack's.
Lynch's lyrics are simplistic, but mask a complex and menacing sexuality, expressed in the language of dreams. Their myriad possible interpretations will keep you guessing, and keep you returning to the tracks to decipher them. His voice is uniquely recognisable, and he attempts more daring feats with it here, revelling in its fragility; its nasal, strangled strangeness.
The music matches him perfectly, from the ragged stomp of Star Dream Girl, suffused with radio static and reverb-heavy guitar; to I Want You and Last Call's fractured blues, underpinned with dubbed-out electronic drums. The haunting We Rolled Together pulls off the feat of sounding at once utterly familiar and deeply strange. This esoteric dream-blues suits Lynch, and only he could imbue a line like "I went down to the ice cream store" with such significant, pregnant menace.
The combination of pitch-dark blues with subtle, understated electronica is a complete success – at once engaging with a traditional musical form so crucial to the American cultural identity, so prevalent in Lynch's movies; and hinting at a more modern, urban geography – a sleazy brand of LA lounge lizard cool. More confident, more coherent, and with much more depth than his debut, this feels less like a self-indulgent project from a director and artist who has decided to experiment with a new form, and more like a youthful artist, full of promise, finding his distinctive voice for the first time. Here's hoping Lynch continues on down this twilit, deeply shadowed path.