this is really not grabbing me at all, which is really disappointing considering that if I assess it on a really basic level o'rourke is likely my favourite artist of all time. the record seems a bit overcooked and content to plod along on tangents which while resolving themselves really intelligently don't necessarily deserve it. a few of the tracks have really stuck with me (that weekend is fucking marvellous) but on the whole it seems a bit too far in the dad rock direction; not having the kotche/barnes/tweedy set-up really strips it of its physicality, despite how bombastic the whole thing is. essentially there's no sense of danger to it I find, right down to o'rourke's voice and lyrics coming across as a bit perfunctory -- he's there but only as an ephemeral presence, being so beholden to these genres for which he evidently cares so much that he fails to stamp on the record the idiosyncrasy that kept eureka and insignificance from tipping over the edge. also a bit unsure as to why this record really needs to exist when the visitor does?? I saw the visitor as a compendium of pop, drawing upon stylistic/historical threads and stringing them all together into a beautifully cohesive work? but then I suppose a pretty fitting interpretation of this record is to see it as an application of the visitor's sound/ideas to approachable songwriting, re-tooling its instrumentation (and more literally the artwork/typography on the packaging etc) so as to befit pure, undeniable pop. still, it's as if he reached the end of that quest for pop reconstruction on the visitor and has moved backwards from there.
also THE MIXING IS FUCKED. I've read so much about how it's pure genius, but it's mastered painfully quietly, to the point where it can only be listened to at punishing volume which doesn't necessarily work when you live in a CIVILISED SOCIETY. totally bassless at any volume too and the vox are way too quiet. his mixing is usually marvellous as has been well documented, but this record's mastering is fucking absurd. it's literally weightless when the volume is low which I can understand, no compression so it doesn't fall apart at high volume, but kevin shields mastered the last mbv record so that while it was very quiet it still managed to hold together at low volumes, ie you wouldn't lose anything if you weren't able to listen to it all the way up.
I'm sure it'll grow on me and if not I always have long night.