Surrealist filmmaker David Lynch has made a four-decade career of exposing the creeping underbelly of everyday American life. (Who could look at a well-groomed suburban lawn the same way after watching Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks)? But what Lynch’s films did for picket fences, his genre-hopping album Crazy Clown Time does for folk, trip-hop and electronic music, warping convention into something uncanny and sinister. Over hallucinatory soundscapes that recall Portishead just as much Angelo Badalamenti’s eerie scores, Lynch layers sleepy, reverb-drenched guitar strums and distorted vocals that occasionally recall a decidedly demented Neil Young. Lynch also finds inspiration in electronic music: He uses a vocoder on the pulsing “She Rise Up” and — surprisingly — to much less creepy effect on the sprightly “Good Day Today.”
Much like his films, photography and painting, it’s all singularly Lynchian, but the record’s highlight is actually a collaboration with Yeah Yeah Yeahs chanteuse Karen O, whose breathy vocals on “Pinky’s Dream” (“Please, Pinky, watch the road,” she begs) create an atmosphere of dark beauty. “All along the road I saw the signs go by/Flashing dark dreams,” Lynch intones on “Movin’ On” — a fitting statement for a record that unravels like a wild and surreal midnight drive.