“Crazy Clown Time” – David Lynch + “Bad As Me” – Tom Waits

For those who regard him as the most important living artist working in any medium, and I count myself among their number, the first full length album released by David Lynch was always going to be something of a slight disappointment. The expectations it created were never likely to be realised.

Nobody, with the possible exception of Robert Altman, has understood quite so clearly the palpable importance of sound in film. So the music employed by Lynch has always been fundamental to the mood and menace that his films evoke.

Lynch wrote the lyrics for his long-time musical collaborator Angelo Badalamenti when they teamed up for the monumental and still ground-breaking Twin Peaks, and the all too ethereal Julee Cruise added the gloss to the lush soundtrack they together produced. Then in 2010, he teamed up with producer supremo Danger Mouse and the ill-fated Sparklehorse to produce the melancholy Dark Night Of The Soul (reviewed earlier here).

So the eventual release of an album proper oughtn’t really to have been too terribly surprising, and nor should the way it sounds be. Moody blues, at the RnB end of the spectrum, spiked with menacing guitar riffs and laced with the occasional female vocal line, with Lynch’s own vocals buried in a sea of vocoder synths.

If you’re looking for a definitive album experience, then this isn’t it. But if you want to luxuriate in the kind of mood his films evoke, then enjoy. It’s the kind of album you might only stick on every six months or so, but it’s one that you’ll continue returning to for years to come.

Strangely, that’s not something that can be said for the latest Tom Waits album. Which is odd, because superficially, it’s delightful. It’s basically a greatest hits album made up of all new material. What could be more satisfying than that?

You get bits of the guttergravel romanticism of Blue Valentine, industrial, N’Orlins RnB à la Rain Dogs, the coiffured avant-garde of the underrated Pale Rider, plus the mandatory novelty act of the title track. It’s hardly Waits’ fault if all the innovations and freshness that were once so exciting have now become the norm. And the first couple of listens will bring a smile to the most curmudgeonly of faces.

And yet. You just know, that after that fourth or fifth listen, you’re never going to put it on again.

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