Reviewing two-year-old albums by David Kilgour: well, let no one say I'm not hep to what the kids are into. Anyway, he's got a greatest somethings record coming out next week, so we'll call it topical shall we.
Frozen Orange is a tasty dessert treat and solo record number six for the former and possibly still Clean singer/guitarist. I had very nice things to say about the previous one. This one's halfway-decent. On its day.
I often describe DK/The Clean's music, from whatever period, as excellent mind-clearing stuff: vignette-type songs, very underwritten, no distractions. A slice from the middle is pretty much like a slice from the beginning or the end. Kilgour's strength isn't his songwriting; it's his ear for arrangement and sonic contrast (and his very nice voice). This was particularly apparent on the mostly one-man-in-a-mid-priced-studio affair A Feather In The Engine, which mixed a few particularly nice pop tunes with a good variety of atmospherics. FO certainly has its moments in terms of sonic interest, but the material's definitely second-tier.
The album boasts full-band arrangements--the chamber aesthetic is still prevalent, though--and a beefier sound than its predecessor. I'm not sure this helps much: the more traditional arrangements show up the obviousness of some of the songwriting. Speaking of which, nothing on FO's going to come as a massive shock to anyone familiar with DK's ouevre. There is more of a lean toward mellow hippy-dippiness in both the music and the, as usual, minimal lyrics, but there's still the spaced-out jangle-pop influence and a lot of three-chorders. Again speaking of which, "Living In Space" sounds pretty much like "Do Your Thing" from The Clean's Modern Rock album (bizarrely, they're both on the new compilation) with a proper ending. Nicely put together, but same old, same old.
"Rocket" (the most obvious bright 'n' shiny pop tune here), "The Waltz" and "A Head Full Of Rolling Stones" are probably the best three songs. The rest ranges from fine to iffy. "Gold In Sound" has all of the attractive DK production characteristics, with little sound impressions bubbling to the surface without disrupting the flow, but the instrumental melody sounds so much like The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" that it's unintentionally funny. "Frozen Orange" is pretty as an aside. If, after a couple of passes, you can remember one of "Dogs Barking," "Blue Sky" and "Everybody's On A Ride," then well done.
You try to take music like Kilgour's in the spirit with which it presents itself (and I do very much like the fellah), but Frozen Orange, at thirty-five minutes, feels about as substantial as a 20-minute ep. Very soothing music for those long, nighttime highway drives though. Recommendation: middling chill-out music.
mp3: David Kilgour--"Rocket" (from Frozen Orange)
mp3: David Kilgour--"Frozen Orange" (from Frozen Orange)