The Drop To The Top, the remarkable debut album from Jack
Dishel's Only Son, is a lesson in sincerity and restraint.
The former Moldy Peaches guitarist's melodic, unaffected pop-rock
is a tremendous relief amidst the excess and ambition that are all-too-common
in the music business. It is the work of a skilled artist expressing
one very original idea. And, despite a few weak moments, The Drop
To The Top is a consistently engaging listen.
Dishel's endearingly nonchalant vocals and understated guitar work,
along with bandmate Matt Tecu's light, insistent drumming,
anchor the album. Dishel relies heavily on acoustic guitar, an intriguing
contrast to his occasional experiments with synthesizers and computerized
beats. The album itself spans just 34 minutes, but it is to Dishel's
credit that he didn't make an attempt to bulk up the running time.
The album's brevity only adds to its impact.
The album's centerpiece, "My Museum," is a near-perfect
pop song. Still, most of the album's other tracks hold their
ground impressively, and the best moments add depth and complexity
to the vision Dishel realizes most perfectly with "My Museum."
Dishel crafts another stunner with "Sleepyface," which
is practically a symphony next to most of the other tracks,
packing an impressive range of musical ideas into three-and-a-half
minutes. The bittersweet "Brand New Broken Heart,"
the up-tempo rock of "True," and the vaguely psychedelic
"Black Limousine" are also highlights.
Dishel's only major misstep is "House On The Highway,"
which masks his least-inspired song with a repetitive drum loop. The
album's opening track, "Long Live The Future," is a much
stronger composition, but the song is stifled by synthesizers and
a claustrophobic arrangement. Dishel recovers admirably with "Only
A Tool," which features spare poetry that would have made a late-1960s
John Lennon proud. "Your heart is / Only a tool / Only
a tool to feel love with," he sings, his acoustic guitar melting
with another strikingly simple melody.
The Drop To The Top is a truly exciting debut. The transcendent
"My Museum" is reason enough to seek it out, but as a whole
the record is a strong indication that this may just be the beginning
for Jack Dishel and Only Son.
1. Long Live The Future
2. Brand New Broken Heart
3. My Museum
4. Quiet Surrender
5. House On The Highway
6. Two In The Ruins
7. Only A Tool
9. The Captain's Dead At The Controls
10. Black Limousine
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