words by ANDREW BRANDT
It’s no fluke that three of the freshest breaths in the electronic-indie scene all hail from our neighbor to the north. Grimes, Purity Ring, and now Doldrums have been suckin’ that quality Canadian air for years. All unabashedly influenced by portions of The Knife’s now shrine-worthy Silent Shout, the 23-year-old Airick Woodhead (aka Doldrums) is the latest to step into the otherworld and come out with his debut: the claustrophobia-inducing Lesser Evil.
“She Is The Wave”
Forget about this earth of three dimensions; Woodhead’s music sonically deserves a planet with four or five. His “Wait—that’s a dude?” vocals serve as the ideal narrator for this ambitious adventure, capable of playing the lead role or acting as another instrument when the casting calls for it. Being staggered, warped, and spliced to varying degrees, he actual words are tough to decipher, but the melodies and tones they’re packaged in capably deliver the sentiment without them.
Lesser Evil begins with “Intro”, a pretty and pretty eerie introduction. It quickly detonates in a fury of blips, bowing out to “Anomaly”—a blown-out, bass-driven banger; ready to come unhinged at any moment. The low end engulfs the clicks and clacks that propel this and the next track (“She Is The Wave”) to their breaking points. The severely brief silence that follows is a nice reminder of its existence, but Doldrums rapidly diverges in a new direction with a trio of songs similar to the style of Glasser. The strongest of the three, “Egypt”, quite frankly demonstrates the kind of fun Woodhead is capable of producing.
The self-explanatory interlude, “Singularity Acid Face”, arrives next. It acts as a buffer for “Live Forever”, which should come with a warning label for anyone who gets nauseous on the merry-go-round. In headphones, the glitches whiz from left to right ear at such a dizzying pace that your gut’s reaction may be to vomit. This effect aids “Live Forever” in being the biggest cluster-fuck on a record overflowing with them.
Lesser Evil then veers again, ending on three bleaker songs that muster just enough hopeful instrumentation to keep them from giving in. Closer “Painted Black” is a dragging, dejected shock to the system: an almost-ballad that sounds sobering after 10 tracks of ear splitting effects. It manages to remain instrumentally minimal until the final 30 seconds, when Doldrums goes bonkers and blasts into space (or comes back down to earth, or something), probably just to remind us what this album’s been about.
As a whole, Lesser Evil can be a lot to take in: it’s hyperactive, unstable, and disoriented. Most of the time it feels like all three at once. Yet Doldrums’ ability to hop genres with ease, write catchy melodies, and–above all–sound like he’s having fun doing it renders his place unique in an overcrowded genre, and his debut a promising one. [B]
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