Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Nov. 4, 2005
I Remain, as Always, a Rabble Rouser From the Mountains (Glurp)
In the wake of the Deathray Davies' standout The Kick and the Snare earlier this year, frontman John Dufilho's solo debut comes off as an Odelay-to-Mutations transition piece. From its lugubrious title on down, Rabble Rouser is an exercise in softly focused bedroom pop with a deliberately unfinished air and its own tentative brand of charm. Sparse, acoustic opener "I'm Gonna Stay Under These Covers Today" nails the paralyzing wooze of a rainy Sunday morning and might just as well be Dufilho's mission statement here. "Now I'm a Stick Figure" sounds like the potential beginning of a grand pop statement that Dufilho decided was more effective as a two-minute snapshot. The album's midsection dives headlong into creative diffusion as exemplified by "I Can Be Nothing but Trouble," which is 19 seconds of Dufilho repeating the title in a whispered cadence. By contrast, the harrowing string arrangement immediately following on "Check the Engine" is the album's most ambitious moment. Instead of looking for pop-minded cohesion, the best way to hear Rabble Rouser is as a behind-the-curtain glimpse at a ravenous songwriter working without a net.