Dead Man’s Bones Do It For The Kids

Oct 6th, 2009 // 1 Comment

Our continuing look at the lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Dead Man’s Bones, the debut album from the Ryan-Gosling-plus-childrens’-choir outfit of the same name:

• “Dead Man’s Bones also do a fine job of balancing the campy and spiritual aspects of a concept album about love, death, and undeath. ‘In the Room Where You Sleep” is gleefully terrifying; ‘Young & Tragic,’ the only song the Silverlake Conservatory kids sing on their own, uses their delicate, flawed voices to express something deeper. Throughout it all, there is a ‘hey, kids, let’s put on a show!’ exuberance that makes the album all the more winning. Dead Man’s Bones isn’t perfect, but it’s often fascinating and nearly always charming — and Shields and Gosling wouldn’t have it any other way. ” [Heather Phares, AllMusic]

• “Overall, I’m as surprised as you are with Dead Man’s Bones. So many ways for it to go wrong, but instead it’s a unique, catchy and lovably weird record, with highlights (the electric piano singalong ‘Pa Pa Power,’ the Beck-ish ‘Werewolf Heart’) that could hold their own with the best indie singles of the year. Perhaps all those easy angles are a smokescreen, a diversion to lower expectations on a record strong enough to be listened to both without preconceptions and long after its Halloween expiration date.” [Rob Mitchum, Pitchfork]

• ”Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn to that god-fearing tension inherent in Arcade Fire’s emotive dirges, or the slow-burn meditations of ‘Yellow House’-era Grizzly Bear — but being roped in with those two is an epic compliment. Is Dead Man’s Bones’ record necessarily as accomplished as either of the aforementioned? Maybe not. But when one half of your band is splitting his vocations by also brandishing his face onto big studio pieces of celluloid, it’s still a mightily impressive debut.” [Ben Zoltowski, Urb]

• ”The play was abandoned; what’s left is a pretentious collage of fog-shrouded ambience, ironic doo-wop, dreary psychedelia and freaky folk rock. I like the minimalist electro-rock of ‘Pa Pa Power’ and the trashy beats and eerie retro keyboards of ‘In the Room Where You Sleep,’ but the chain-rattling and disembodied crooner-thing (Bobby Vinton lives!) is a bit much. Scary as Count Chocula and as fruity as Franken Berry, I’m afraid.” [Brad Wheeler, The Globe & Mail]

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