After delivering some of the most unique and bizarre films of the past 20+ years, director David Lynch then decided to partake in some musical projects for a while. In 2011, he released his debut album Crazy Clown Time and he would follow it up two years later with The Big Dream.
Was this career jump a wise, worthy choice or more of a Kevin Costner singing country songs type of deal?
After all, while David Lynch’s voice is always a delight (see Twin Peaks for some rather loud examples), it doesn’t exactly strike as the obvious singing voice so let’s see how that turned out.
The opening song, “Pinky’s Dream”, buries the lead by not revealing singing Lynch and instead having Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs sing the tune. And what a tune it is! About as Lynchian as it gets, this is a fast-paced, dark, moody, driving song with some crafty reverbs and sound effects, bringing up images of a frantic, surreal highway chase. It’s, quite simply, a brilliant track and the perfect way to start the album.
Surprisingly, “Good Day Today”, goes for something completely different: a club-friendly remix of what sounds like some Angelo Badalamenti leftover sounds from his classic Twin Peaks score with an auto-tuned Lynch singing over a bouncy beat which includes the odd gunshot. There’s an upbeat but also desperate feel to this one and it is about as wacky as the above description suggests.
“So Glad” is a slower, somewhat more mean-spirited track which somehow works really well, Lynch’s voice blending in perfectly with the regular drum beat and the occasional guitar twangs. It’s one of those many songs on the album you find yourself quickly hypnotized by, wanting to know how it builds and what it builds up to. “Noah’s Ark” is next and sees David Lynch whispering about a “dark night” over sounds of a record skipping and repeating, plus the usual moody backing. Again, it shouldn’t work and yet it’s strangely compelling.
The next track, “Football Game”, is more playful as Lynch amusingly mumbles about going to a football game with a southern twang and what has to be a bag of hazelnuts in his mouth as an old-fashioned reverbed guitar rocks out throughout. “I Know” is in the same vein as “So Glad” and is just as atmospheric if maybe a little too similar in tone and feel. As for “Strange And Unproductive Thinking”, it can only be described as Lynch’s musical homage to Transcendental Meditation as the man talks, or rather echoes, about the subconscious and superconscious over a quietly booming beat.
“The Night Bell With Lightning” is a bluesier track the likes of Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t spit at, I’m sure. Lynch’s band showing off how well they’ve captured the director’s style in a slow yet cool instrumental tune. It is followed by one of this album’s highlights: “Stone’s Gone Up”. Like “Pinky’s Dream”, this is a ridiculously moody, fun track but, this time, David Lynch is on singing duties and he does a great job, nailing a not-super-easy to sing chorus and the more talky verses.
And now we come to “Crazy Clown Time”, the title track. Armed with one nutty video to say the least, it’s quite probably the wackiest song on the album but it’s also one of the best and most memorable. Lynch describes an out-of-control party in a kid’s voice, with all the naivety of a child, and the result is hilarious, hypnotic and… just so good. The music itself is, of course, also terrific.
Crazy clown time indeed!
Easily the best 7 minutes you’ll spend with your shirt off.
“These Are My Friends” is a more chilled-out track, a ballad almost, in which Lynch describes a bunch of stuff he has including a truck and “two good ears” before describing what his friends have: bluebirds, dogs and yellow baskets, mostly. It’s a good song with a silly sense of humour and, a lot like “Crazy Clown Time”, it’s pretty irresistible. “Speed Roadster” is the 12th song and Lynch tries to speak to someone on the phone in this one. Sounds a bit like he improvised the track as he went, which isn’t so far-fetched when you know the man’s mostly out-there work. The swearing throughout is entertaining but the song doesn’t stand-out as much as the others, unfortunately.
The next track, “Movin’ On”, has a similar beat as its predecessor but Lynch’s voice is higher pitched. Ultimately it has some nice melodic moments here and there but it’s another not-too memorable effort. The final song “She Rise Up”, is reminiscent of “Good Day Today” in that similar effects affect Lynch’s voice but this is a much darker tune which builds up slowly. It’s not bad and is actually quite pretty at times but a faster song would have really hit the spot at that point.
So what to make of the film director’s debut album?
Against all odds, it’s a winner! Lynch and his band capture the mood and humour of his films brilliantly and you can definitely picture scenes from Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire and others as you listen. There are a handful of clear hits here everyone should have a good time with but really, this is one for fans who will likely love every minute of this strange, inspired little adventure.
“Crazy Clown Time” gets 4 Shady Dudes out of 5 from us.
I liked it so much I SPIT!