Doldrums, Lesser Evil

Stevie Chick

By Stevie Chick

on 02.26.13 in Reviews

This debut album from Montreal-based fractured-pop auteur Airick Woodhead might seem puzzling at first, but rewards patient listening. Like a Magic Eye poster from the ’90s, from deep within the blizzard of sounds, bewitching, pristine pop emerges.

Seductively alien pop that’s impossible to pin down

Woodhead is a sonic collagist who clearly isn’t happy until he’s saturated his track with untold layers of noise and fragmented melody. “She Is The Wave,” a collaboration with Canadian electronic artist Guy Dallas, is a case in point. It’s a cyclone of elements that, at first, seems random, but on closer inspection, has a beautifully choreographed tunefulness deep in the chaos. On “Egypt,” Woodhead weaves industrial noises, blips and crashes into ever-changing, sweetly discombobulated pop — it could be Art Of Noise for the GarageBand generation.

While the sonic overload is exhilarating, it is Woodhead’s bruised songcraft that makes Doldrums compulsively listenable. Woodhead’s vision is commendably, uniquely skewed: “Painted Black”‘s sugary synth symphony sounds like it is being played on warped vinyl; “Lost In Everyone” is a wonky choral reverie that feels like it slipped off Pet Sounds. The idiosyncratic production approach means that even at its most familiar, Lesser Evil still sounds seductively alien. Like Woodhead’s androgynous vocals, this is pop that is impossible to pin down.