Auteur film director David Lynch’s latest musical experiment, The Big Dream, is an unsettling collection of songs about love and infatuation. Unlike on 2011′s Crazy Clown Time, Lynch delivers all of the album’s lead vocals himself. He situates one-or-two-chord song structures loosely inspired by blues and rockabilly atop simple rhythms generated by brittle drum machines or dampened trap sets. He runs guitars through long pedal chains, creating sheens that are simultaneously harsh and ethereal — imagine Marc Ribot fronting a shoegaze band. The vocals, gutted out by cathedral-sized reverb effects, sometimes conjure Daniel Johnston attempting a Lee Hazlewood impression.
The album’s highlights include “Cold Wind Blowin” and “The Line That Fits,” ballads that imagine Lynch singing at the Twin Peaks roadhouse instead of Julee Cruise, and “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” a grunge-y take on Dylan’s 1964 murder ballad. On “Sun Can’t Be Seen No More,” Lynch poses as the singer of a Southern bar band; his pseudo-C&W recitations are suffocated by flange effects which transform them into otherworldly howls. Though The Big Dream sometimes wanders into maudlin, adult-contemporary sound-worlds, it is generally an enjoyable listen, and will please Lynch fans that enjoy hearing his cinematic ethos translated into musical terms.