Daughn Gibson – Carnation
Carnation is a frustrating record. According to Gibson, it’s marked from his previous releases by a sense of “malign opulence.” He says, “if All Hell was candy and Me Moan gourmet beef jerky, then Carnation is delicious melon.” It’s a bizarre thing to say, and it’s reflective of the pervasive sense that this album is trying really, really hard to do something different. But, like prayers for rain, simply willing the weirdness to come isn’t always quite enough.
The ingredients he’s working with are, in premise, great. A full roster of impressive recording artists and the talented Randall Dunn (Sun O))) etc) on co-producing duty mix with Gibson’s grand-scale visions and sometimes result in something special: Shatter You Through is all bottom-of-your-belly reverb and ‘80s disco punctuation, and I Let Him Deal shows off Gibson’s catchiest Morrissey impression amidst a sea of doom-laden, rolling swing beats. But more often than not, the tracks are blown-out, over-wrought. The lux glam of For Every Bite is overshadowed by unnecessary melodrama, and Daddy I Cut My Hair is uncomfortably self-conscious balladry. Carnation is built on indulgence: a gratuitous, unpredictable experience that sometimes leaves the listener on the outside of an in-joke.