Dirty Beaches

Drifters/Love is the Devil


Jun 05, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Listening to a Dirty Beaches album is the aural equivalent of bloodletting. The musical catharsis one felt during Alex Zhang Hungtai's breakout album, 2011's Badlands, was entrancing and deeply meditative. Odd strains of 1950s Americana still course through the Taiwan-born Canadian immigrant's work. David Lynch films, early rockabilly, the minimal punk of Suicide, and lo-fi ambience return in mutated forms on the epic musical travelogue Drifters/Love is the Devil. The forlorn and downright troubling double album stretches to 75 minutes. It's rare to find analogues to Badlands' more melodic hallmarks ("True Blue," "Sweet 17," "Lord Knows Best"). The first disc is vaguely reminiscent of Badlands' lo-fi rock adrenaline rush, but the second disc slips into a miasmic fog of bleating horns, found sounds, and melodic navel gazing that is hard to stomach on repeat listening sessions. For every intriguing instrumental cut, there are three plodding and claustrophobic nocturnes. Drifters/Love is the Devil eschews Dirty Beaches' wonderful penchant for crafting fictional musical worlds. Instead, it lurches within a reality-focused album that is stuck in a noxious tar pit of remorse, nostalgia, depravity, and relational apocalypse. This is the album Hungtai needed to record, but not necessarily the record his burgeoning audience wanted to experience. (www.dirtybeaches.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 5.5/10

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