Crystal Shipsss

Dirty Dancer

Written by: PP on 22/01/2014 21:52:36

I've had the pleasure of exploring a couple of Crystal Shipsss releases in the past prior to their latest album "Dirty Dancer". Each one of those has been a distinctive listening experience due to the highly experimental nature of the manner Jacob Faurholt chooses to express himself through the realms of lo-fi pop, indie and singer-songwriter genres. To call it avant-garde indie, artistic indie, or experimental singer-songwriter would all be valid terms to describe the way in which he treats his soundscape like a blank canvas with seemingly infinite ideas on what to do with it.

On "Dirty Dancer", though, I'm afraid Faurholt has lost me, and possibly a larger chunk of his audience as well. It's one thing being experimental, it's an entirely another being weird and incredibly strange just for the sake of it, where the ends don't justify the means. Already opening track "Screaming Teens" rubs me wrong because it starts off with off-tune cacophony of different effects and echoing high pitch crooning that feels pretentious to say the least. Eventually - after a few minutes - the song finally has some good singing that's fairly catchy, before the song gets lost again in its will to experiment, experiment again, twist the sound a few dozen times more, before continuing to push whatever avant-garde agenda the song has. Just because it's experimental and artsy-fartsy doesn't necessarily make it good. This is a common theme throughout "Dirty Dancer" that is difficult to overcome.

The best moments of "Dirty Dancer" are when experimentalism is kept in check and the songs take at least slightly more conventional structures. "I Know" may use a lot of feedback and noisy distortion as its groundwork, but at least the garage-ish bits in the middle tie the whole thing together nicely. Likewise, "I'm Not Insane" is a more traditional singer-songwriter song with playful acoustic guitar, and light high pitch singing intertwining to create a dreamy and fluffy vibe that's nonetheless down-to-earth. But the off tune "Pig" with its weird breaks and odd synths is just too much. "Lost" explores drum sampling but is too drenched in weird echoing effects and loops to make sense as a song. "18 Years Old" features a total disconnect between the drum sample rhythm and the rest of the instrumentation - it's just not in synch in any meaningful manner. "The Horror Of It All" has some lower range, effect-laden vocals and a weird stylistic choice by including hip hop as an element - it just doesn't work. Maybe the hipsters will disagree with me in this review, but in all honesty, I'm not hearing very many good songs here. I re-iterate: writing avant-garde music doesn't automatically mean the music is good. On "Dirty Dancer", Jacob Faurholt could do much better to not forget the basic elements that make the ingredients for a good song.


Download: I Know, I'm Not Insane
For the fans of: Jacob Faurholt projects, Sam Gray Singing, experimentalist lo-fi
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.09.2013
Raw Onion Records

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