Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I hate to break it to you, but it's worse than you thought/We have to live together whether we like it or not --("The Clouds Plateau")

Dw. Dunphy returns with his most ambitious effort to date, the compelling Enigmatic. Dunphy describes the album as an art project rather than a rock record, which may account for the limited edition version that finds the CD housed in a 32-page book featuring full lyrics, special artwork for each song, and the artist's musings on the meaning of Enigmatic. But Deluxe Edition aside, the songs alone show themselves to be more than the typical indie rock fare.

Enigmatic is an album about broken people and the broken relationships they have with other broken selves. From deadbeat dads to summer romances, Dunphy offers a collection of compelling vignettes, fictions behind which lie "a hint of a fact" ("Stories for Telling"). The overall sound and cohesion of the album hearken to his previous release, Modernism, but some interesting departures from this progressive, keyboard-laden sound on tracks such as "Pine Box" and "The Icy Frozen Ocean" give Enigmatic a lift above even that fine 2008 release. Dunphy's lyrics are as skillful and astute as ever (I shan't flood you with quotes of all my favorite lines from this record, though I would really like to), and the sound quality of his homegrown recordings reaches a high mark here, as do his vocals.

Consisting mostly of fictional stories told in the first person, Enigmatic is nevertheless a record which invites its listeners to see themselves in the stories and learn a little bit about life together, where my hang-ups and yours meet and make "love" a job that requires hard-work and understanding. And yet, at the end of the day, most folks will resonate with the record's upbeat single and say "I'd rather be there with you."

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