Goof is Gone - Lambchop, Damaged
Merge Records 12.11.06 by Bruce Mackenzie
"damage' is a really interesting word. a good word. evocative, dangerous. it can apply to the physical and the psychical, the emotional. doctors use it. it is calming and carries, i guess, the promise of repair. beautiful sounding in an incongruous way. like "slaughter". now i've had some damage in my life lately. pretty significant damage. none of your business, but it's a part of me, of who i am. it's affected how i move through the world, how i smell. i got this package the other day, a byzantine fucking process lemme tell you. cuz it was damaged. the goods was damaged. and i knew it. i made em send the shit anyway. and i had to write "damaged" on the shipping receipt before taking my shit inside. i put it where my signature should go.
but damaged is not the same as broken, you see. you carry damage. it's portable. you can't carry broken. and if something's broken it doesn't work. something's damaged it doesn't work right. still works though. now i don't know what happened to kurt wagner between records but it's clear some deep shit went down in this man's life. this record, man. it's a glacier. it's got one inside the cover. and on the disc. and in the booklet. two. one in color. it might be an iceberg but either way it makes sense; there's something going on that we can't see: inexorable advance (or decay if you take global warming into account) or unperceived immensity. and i've since heard that he had some kind of health crisis or something. i don't know what it is/was and don't necessarily wanna know. i mean, i knew. i got it. i don't need to know. none of my business really.
to listen to this record all the way through is to spend an hour with your smartest, most thoughtful and saddest distant friend. the lyrics are filled with liminal and hovering moments or experiences - opportunities for intimacy, conversations, letters never sent, the act of waiting - moments that hang like pearls on, i dunno what on but it's gonna break. it could go at any time. but until it does... and whatever the song happens to be about it's a long walk (metaphorically) to get to what's next if your lucky enough to get there. waiting. it's all over the album. the most laid-back relaxed white cracker soul song ever is here, titled "i would have waited here all day". originally written for candy staton (who recently did a song will oldham gave her didn't she?) and why the fuck not? she's got a history of doing intense memphis soul versions of cracker country tunes, and i mean kurt got his curtis mayfield thing going on "what another man spills" - what was that tune, it's a curtis song. but on "i would have waited..." he doesn't go where you might think he'd go and that's good. i love him but sometimes his soul-pop thing gets too close to up with people for me. here the restraint (here being everywhere on the disc) is remarkable. and kind of frightening. where's the goof? what happened? none of our business. to my knowledge he's not making a big deal of it whatever it is, if there is an it, the way mark linkous used his it to market good morning spider or whatever that sparklehorse record of some years ago was.
i have a hard time keeping it to myself myself i guess and i appreciate a guy who can. self-contained. i love the arrangements on this record. throughout the players contribute with such care, such sensitivity, it's as if one man is breathing music behind wagner's fragile singing. and he articulates and finishes, i think, every single word he sings, the plosives, the sibilants, the whaddya-call-ems when it ends with m or r. you don't hear that too much. the care is there as well, and the overall sensibility is that every sound is important . (you know who else does that in spades? frank sinatra. speaking of arrangements, what an ear that fucker had. he didn't write em but goddamn he could hear it when some clown in the strings missed a note and he let em know too. lotta respect, whether you like the music or not. some guys just have the ear, you know. brian wilson, jack nitzsche. (i hope that's how you spell it) brian's rare cos he could write em and arrange em. ) by the second track "prepared " you know something special is going on. the loping bass line at the chorus-y bit only hints at it. the structural play is a complete surprise after the straight lovely catalog of the mundane that precedes it ("paperback bible". dig the simple piano run at about 4:07 or so) and when the strings come in over the repeated guitar figure... this is a thing that could go on but it's done once, only once each time but the potential for repetition, knowing that you could hear that progression played two, three times, more, but only hearing it once and still being completely satisfied is a beautiful thing. it is enough. and this sense of promise or potential, of something coming whether you and i are here to see it or hear it, it's all over the record. we live in a continuum of events, a fabric of lives, of cares, and you get the sense from "damaged" that these everyday things stretching beyond ourselves is as deepened by our presence as by our absence. to put this into lyric is pretty straightforward. the achievement of this record is that it is also fully embodied by the music: how it is played, what is played. in the music. i could go on track by track., but i won't. i do just wanna say about maybe my favorite track, "short": the quiet propulsiveness and cluster of strings, the way the track develops musically makes me want to fucking explode when i listen to it - in a good way - and it ends with the devastating lines : "here's a little story bout regret/...this story's short just like i said/can't seem to get it through my thick head/started out with hope and now the ending is suppressed/smothered like a fire in your dreams/or will we burn for you tomorrow in your dreams/or will we pass out in the airport like a freak upon your seat". that's something worthy of robert pinsky for fuck's sake. to me. the sympatico of musicians, lyric and delivery give the experience of listening to this record the kind of weightlessness of the best conversations. which are, (not?) coincidentally, always the heaviest ones.
so the goof is gone but not a goner. damaged but not, not broken.
f.y.i. this was gonna be a two-fer about damaged and joanna newsom's new one but it was gonna be like taking a load of spider monkeys down the chisolm trail as far as ideas go and i'm ain't up to it.
jesus east l.a. has got a startling sunset today. crepuscule. another hovering that carries the promise of the promise of. something's coming.
Stream Damaged by Lambchop