Missing Ingredient Consolation Prize
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Feb. 4, 2000
Consolation PrizeConsolation Prize is one of those rare albums that makes you feel guilty, almost voyeuristic, for even listening. Credit local singer/guitarist Mike DuBose's hyperpersonal songwriting for presenting the pitfalls and emotional ambushes of modern relationships through an appropriately bitter haze of poison and drug metaphors. Musically, the album follows the fault line of fractured roots-pop that flourishes in Austin, making the disc all the more inviting. "Antidote" jumps along on a lapping electric-guitar lick over a bed of Loose Diamonds strumming, while "Relapse" recalls Jeff Tweedy's more reflective moments while Tish Hinojosa purrs dulcet duet vocals. The angry "Beautiful Thing" and "30 Days" seethe with frenetic Prescott Curlywolf urgency, but "Head Above Water" despairs amidst Radiohead arpeggios and lachrymal cello vibrato, while "Sickened" couches Biafra-caliber political bile into an unassuming lo-fi shuffle. DuBose gives his former love the final kiss-off to a speeding Fivehead riff on "Requiem" before bleeding into the dreamy Orange Mothers' jangle of "One Fleeting Instant," climaxing in a hope-filled Sixteen Deluxe sunburst. Though rock needs more of these laid-back catharses, Consolation Prize is hardly an easy listen, and when it's over you want to either buy DuBose a beer or give him a hug. "Sorry for this pretty piece of vitriol," he sings on "Antidote." Don't be.