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.