Troubadour Dali – Let’s Make It Right

written by: November 7, 2011
Release Date: August 8th, 2011


One listens to some records and gets that strange feeling of déjà vu. It’s like all the sounds have happened somewhere, some place before—even though the reality of it is impossible because it’s a freshly pressed album. It’s for this sensation that Let’s Make It Right is saved. The album has an heirloom familiarity to it that makes listening easy.

Now, know that most of the work accomplishes nothing. That’s without mentioning originality or musicianship or sex appeal, merely that unquantifiable feeling that listening to a magical album gives you. Maybe it’s a sort of terror or awe at the artistic achievement. More likely, it’s love. Falling in love with a band is like falling in love with a person, at first wanting to know everything: you want its history, every way it has ever looked, and you never want to be apart. Let’s Make It Right has none of that magic. The album is the second studio release of Troubadour Dali—a band name as precocious and troubled as the sounds it represents.

The sounds accused are rotary vocals, lashing guitars, jumpy grooves and good deal of fuzz—elements not unwelcome in other contexts. Quite often, they sound like Thurston Moore, had he decided in his post-breakup haze to front The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Troubadour Dali wears its influences on its sleeve, in really big badges. Psychedelic rock it is, with a penchant for quixotic exploration of space and sound that more often than not gets them in trouble.

So, if we’re pretending for a second it isn’t a parody of an age-old genre, despite the gospel harmonies and classic-rock progressions, it’s still underwhelming. The lyricism is immature and dallies around indolently without ever sticking. Take “Ducks In A Row,” a case study in self-pity: “Lost myself to the fate of man/I’m going to fight it.” Come on, does it get much more martyristic than that?

Most songs groove on steadily, with mutlioctave vocals shadowing one another over a fuzzy bed of guitar noise. “The Fall” builds in an off-kilter spiritual or folk-song type of groove that’s infectious but ruined by trite vocal melodies. One of the most welcome moments on the album comes at the very end: the strange untitled instrumental is mostly joyful, but something is not quite right with it and in trying to figure out what, it unnerves the listener. A time under two minutes and lack of singing help, too. “The Prickly Fingers of Santa Muerte” deserves credit at least in creating a Western Gothic mood with its deep yet upbeat riffing. After a while though, even it withers into shoegaze.

The St. Louisian scene has long lauded the band, mostly on the strength of its live shows—the Riverfront Times bestowed them city honors of 2010’s best indie band. In fairness, the band is not totally out of its times. Both psych rock and noise punk have been championed in recent years by the Eastern Midwest, from Nashville to Cincinnati, but because these small-city scenes seem bent on staying insular or self-destructing, we may never hear the difference or the conversation between bands.

Troubadour Dali is a band that has wound itself up in a vital scene, and although Let’s Make It Right isn’t quite yet, that’s not to say this young group could refine and sharpen its sound into something deadly.

 Troubadour Dali – Let’s Make It Right tracklist:

  1. “Pale Glow”
  2. “Ducks in a Row”
  3. “Let’s Make It Right”
  4. “Au Tu Lado”
  5. “Fall”
  6. “Wash Away”
  7. “Dirge”
  8. “Prickly Fingers of Sante Muerte”