David Lynch, the man who brought us some of the most disturbingly brilliant movies of the last thirty-five years, has unofficially retired from film-directing these days. But with his place in the pantheon of cinematic greats assured, the 65-year-old is far from a spent force. It’s worth remembering that music – and sound design in general – has always been an essential part of his work. So while neophytes might think that a debut album at this time in his life is odd, the only surprise to fans will be that it hasn’t happened earlier.
The album opens with Pinky’s Dream, featuring a great lead vocal from Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. It’s somewhat atypical of the rest of the songs, yet somehow feels like the perfect way to ease the casual listener into Lynch’s subsequent ramblings. Yet casual listeners will be few and far between here, because Crazy Clown Time is perhaps best enjoyed by those who are already fans of the man behind the music. If you ‘get’ the great maestro’s films, then you will likely get these songs. Although whether you will want to listen to them again and again is another question entirely.
But on balance, Bowlegs feels you probably will; because there is an almost wilful naivety to Lynch’s noodlings here which will make you smile and keep your attention. The overall effect is rather like a back to Bontempi basics session, thanks to the recurring use of heavy electronic effects (vocoded vocals feature in nearly every track), repetitive trance-like beats, and strange arrangement choices – as on the jock character-study, Football Game, during which Lynch sings as though he’s either eating a hotdog, impersonating Marlon Brando, or in need of immediate medical attention.
Strange and Unproductive Thinking best captures the heart of both the man and his collection. As Lynch’s vocoded monotone voice chants repetitively about the virtues of his other lifelong obsession – transcendental meditation – possibly the strangest thing is, at over seven-minutes long, it doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Good Day Today and I Know have both been available as singles since last year, in one of the longest teasers in music publishing history. If you like those, you’ll probably eat this up. Just don’t sing with your mouth full.