Amped on adrenaline yet arch with geek-chic, the second album from New Yorker Darwin Smith is a hive of noisy activity. Its energy is relentless and infectious, echoing choppy new wave (Talking Heads) as often as labyrinthine prog (Beefheart). The former guitarist of Brooklyn band Creaky Boards informs the staccato riffs and bubbling beats with peripatetic cut-up phrases — “Lead us not into late-night TV,” “Fling the installation in the dumper” — that showcase a man torn between egomania and existentialism.
“(800) Human” and “Free (Editorial Me)” boast a lava-flow of ideas, like Stephen Malkmus free-associating over Hall & Oates and A Certain Ratio simultaneously. Chelsea’s Hotel” is a stuttering love song straight out of art college. It’s easy to see why Darwin irritates some, and his default mode is Dali-esque divisiveness, but there’s a gauche originality here that leaps out of the pack. Refreshingly rambunctious.