Chris Donaghey
Reviews Editor
June 04, 2007
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April 24, 2007
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Rock Music Reviews
Dntel
Dumb Luck

'Just don't forget that it's dumb luck that got you here' is a rather existential way to open an album by the guy, Jimmy Tamborello, who helped launch Ben Gibbard as the hopeless romantic torchbearer for The OC generation, especially considering that the title track's initial words are delivered in a fashion more befitting a defeated self-eulogization than a determined thesis statement. But surprisingly enough, it seems that the success of his Postal Service collaboration with Big Ben didn't lift him up to many great heights after all. Dumb Luck is a guest-laden dream-pop venture in the same general vein as the hit Dntel release Life is Full of Possibilities though there is at least one substantial difference: this release is lacking a "This is the Dream (of Evan and Chan)," the lightly carbonated Gibborello gem that helped birth everything from television soundtrack appearances to commercials about candy. The layers upon layers of glitch still remain like an 8-bit onion with vaguely human voices hiding underneath; those voices, however, mostly feel like the coldly calculated samples with which they are forced to interact. Tamborello still has a gift for mixing the organic with the manufactured, but the melodies are hardly buoyant enough to salvage the relatively lifeless incantations from such repected artists as Jenny Lewis, who is on emotional cruise control against the tepid showers of "Roll On," and Grizzly Bear, an inventive band who, in "To a Fault," have been reduced to random hazy verses that are constantly being suffocated by multitracking. Conor Oberst is one of the album's rare successful blends (the pre/post-coital drifter "Breakfast in Bed") if only for the fact that the man can forcefully inject emotion into Swiss cheese. A majority of these artists, all of which have distinct vocal stylings, are improperly utilized and made into shells by the hungover pacing and lethargic melodies of these tracks. Jimmy Tamborello knows how to piece together samples in idiosyncratic fashions, but he has committed an unfortunate misstep with Dumb Luck. To end by referencing the title track again, Tamborello sings 'You're out of time and inspiration;' unfortunately, throughout most of this album, he sounds like he is that at arms with himself. Next time, he can hopefully remember that life is more than just...well, you know...and Dntel can feel alive again.

Release date: April 24, 2007
Label: Sub Pop
Rating: 4.0 / 10

On the web: http://www.myspace.com/dntel
[RMR]