Doldrums: The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (Sub Pop) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame ImpalaDoldrums

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

Sub Pop

Apr 14, 2015 Doldrums Bookmark and Share

Doldrums are admirable for, if nothing else, a sincere striving. Airick Woodhead is Doldrums, and if at 25 years of age he’s not yet setting the world on fire, he’s certainly laying down some intriguing kindling. For a white male making soulful, glitchy electronic music in 2015, there’s so much that’s come before and that’s a thing to contend with, no doubt. He stands somewhere in between Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace and LCD Soundsystem. Which is to say, he sounds like a guy who’s played in rock bands and then shifted that aesthetic to electronics. He wasn’t born in the machine, and that may be why his beats tend more towards the competent than the bumping.

Liars’ Angus Andrew suggested that his band’s last two records revolved around the band gaining familiarity with its newfound electronic tools, migrating their aesthetic from acoustic instruments to the overwhelming possibilities of digital interfaces. But whereas Liars have the assured aesthetic and songwriting chops to animate their nascent skills, Doldrums, unfortunately, too often demonstrates that he’s “new to this.”

He does, however, occasionally catch the proverbial butterflies in the right order, and at those moments, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is visited by a kind of magic. “Video Hostage” is one such peak moment. All the elements come together and you can’t really see Doldrums’ tools. Competence transmutes into craft and expression emerging as a moody pastiche of dissonant synths and breathy vox.

Final track “Closer 2 U” shines as well: a tweaked ballad punctuated by layers of creepy broken synths and moans and something resembling a chorus from Woodhead-which suits him, especially because so much of his album’s dystopian conceit seems to evaporate in his coy delivery. It’s a welcome change from what plagues too much of The Air Conditioned Nightmare: so-so beats, soaring yet indistinct vocals, and a beginner’s acumen for melody. There’s something here, but it’s not totally revealed and unfortunately, the record feels more like a notebook of unwhittled concepts than an assertive statement. (

Author rating: 5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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