Review Summary: Your beauty will last for awhile.
Taking Damon Gough for what he is (which is as he no doubt wants us to believe, a homeless man who found a hat and a guitar), it comes as a surprise that his music actually has a learning curve. After all, his brand of self-indulgent indie pop is pretty straightforward listening at a first glance – a favouring nod to mellow acoustics, mixed up with a quantity of ‘zany’ instruments, nearly completely conducted by his hands-on self. If ever there is a difference to whomever, though, it shins in his ecstatic ambition. Obscurely referencing himself from album to album is a start, but maybe he just feels he’s earned the fun of randomly connecting albums together through his own lyrics. Well, he may not be quite enough of a household name to do that just yet, but with an eighteen track debut, he’s certainly been trying his best.
Gough enjoys rambling no end. The sum of eighteen tracks on The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
would be daunting, were it not for an obvious self-consciousness that plagues his mind. For the full stretch, the writing changes in ways to create an album that is better with all its parts intact. This way, lowly and quickly produced tracks become bare bones without being actually useless. To have a reason for existence, “This Song” is the candid slow piece, cornered by all the contrasts possible; the playful instrumental in “Bewilderbeast” on one side, or otherwise the high-altitude “Once Around the Block” that needs immediate calming. Opposites attract.
Allowing these small necessities to gather does Gough his own favour with a complimentary job: defining the ultimation of brilliant song writing. “Once Around The Block” is, no matter what, the central point of Gough’s career. It is intricate for any chosen reason – the effect peddles that twist and turn melodramatically, the layering of encompassing riffs that move identically to Gough’s harmonies, or just its playfully engaging lyricism (how You quiver like a candle on fire/I’m putting you out/Maybe tonight we could be the last shot/That I’m fascinated by your love
looks on paper is disregarded with Gough’s inside out vocals). It sounds as if it was originally a few different songs, but not in a segmented progressive pattern; this is compacted, packaged music that neither forgets nor remembers itself.
Such could be said for Gough’s first composition in general. There’s nothing left actually unfinished by the time it fades away – the chimes to close “Once Around The Block” could be the most bombastic showcase of this, but then the unexpected jolly whistle-along that jumps up on the electric guitars of “Cause A Rockslide” are almost as hypnotic. Then, acoustic strumming is born from enclosed trumpeting on “The Shining” and suddenly this quality is played in reverse. However the tracks are played, however – forward, backwards, whatever – they stand-alone. Even the instrumentals can fundamentally do this; the accordion/guitar replicas “Bewilder/Bewilderbeast” bouncy and charming enough to earn a less scathing title than ‘interlude’. All these little knacks give The Hour of Bewilderbeast
real uncanny plot. It all sounds so well planned; it might just be a sudden higher pitch hum or a cluster of atypical Yeah yeah yeah
s, but it’s impossible to miss.
Fifty-six minutes in, “Epitaph” will detract the album from its conventional sound for a lo-fi closer. It is small in nature, but there’s something in its optimistic backdrop that permits it to be a final emptying of thoughts. Even at the end of this brisk four-minute farewell, the rules still apply. Every little
trait remaining on Damon Gough’s debut is a saccharine tint to accompany whatever its original substance was. Instead of writing a tongue-in-cheek one off, Gough’s debut has been written as something with a little bit of contemplation. Even if you don’t understand how this could make any difference to The Hour of Bewilderbeast
– a one hour ‘sing along’ – break it down to bits and think again. Or: delve in immediately.