Vincent Gallo



by Thomas S. USER (29 Reviews)
September 21st, 2017 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: From the mouth of an adult man, these words should feel saccharine; but here in the dulcet tones of Gallo’s high tenor, somehow, they resonate with absolute clarity.

Reviewing an album penned by an actor is a tremendously disorienting task. For me, the most gratifying aspect of music is typically the transmission of thoughts, feelings and catharsis. These experiences are predicated on a presumption of sincerity: that any meaning communicated through words, sounds or stories is inspired by honest and truthful realities. Actors, however, are by definition professionals in deception - so they don’t get the benefit of the doubt. In the past, actors have circumnavigated this problem of authenticity with a hefty dose of self-awareness. Cult classic like William Shatner’s The Transformed Man and Christopher Lee’s Charlemagne: The Omens of Death don’t attempt to delineate between acting and reality; they hilariously portray themselves as a character, and the listener is in on the joke. When, the polarising debut from much-maligned actor Vincent Gallo, makes no such delineations. The album portrays Gallo as equal parts pitiful, lonely and oppressively tragic - and I cannot for the life of me determine if it is a genuine self-reflection or a maudlin, self-absorbed fabrication.

When harbours all the aesthetics of an unaccomplished bedroom recording. Gallo’s songwriting is endearingly rudimentary: with bare-bones instrumentation and limited song structure, much of the material here sounds closer to preliminary sketches rather than fully realised songs. In ‘Laura’, two softly strummed chords act as the canvas for Gallo’s idiosyncratic improvisations. Meandering bass lines ebb and flow without any form of pattern or continuity, while fumbling little snippets of skeletal guitar writhe away on the peripheries. As with most things on When, Gallo chooses to sing the eponymous character’s name seemingly at a whim; his vocals are the most pleasant surprise here, resembling the wonderfully smooth, bell-like crooning of Chet Baker in his prime. ‘Yes I’m Lonely’ borrows further from the sultry lounge jazz of the ‘50s, incorporating a slinky chromatic chord progression and a swinging snare beat that is obviously - though not painfully so - beyond Gallo’s drumming capacity. The song limps forward to the tune of Gallo’s sorrowful mantra (“It could be so nice / So nice / Nice”) until it spontaneously combusts into a soft swirl of feedback and tape hiss.

Several songs on When are a natural extension of Gallo’s work in arranging soundtracks for films. ‘I Wrote This Song For The Girl Paris Hilton’ and ‘My Beautiful White Dog’ are curious instrumental exercises in stream-of-consciousness improvisation; these visceral collages of sound and texture reveal an uncanny talent for creating oppressive, stark atmospheres. Yet it’s only when Gallo applies this sonically unorthodox approach to traditional forms of songwriting that we’re treated to some legitimately beautiful music. ‘Apple Girl’ is a stripped back ballad, with just a reverb-soaked, Brian Eno-inspired piano supporting Gallo’s gentle crooning. Describing his girlfriend’s addiction with all the starry-eyed simplicity of a child, he sings: “Goodnight, baby / When you think of getting high / I’ll think of nice things to make you smile”. From the mouth of an adult man, these words should feel saccharine to the point of insincerity; but here in the dulcet tones of Gallo’s high tenor, somehow, they resonate with absolute clarity.

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user ratings (28)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
September 21st 2017


hell yes, i'm cautiously optimistic that you'll keep up these great reviews :~) well done tom

althoooough there's an italicizing error in the first paragraph and "in is" should be switched around i believe. again, though, great stuff!

September 21st 2017


of course this half-wit twat makes music as well..

pos for the review, nice job..

September 21st 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

Can't find any youtube links unfortunately, but you can hit this bad boy up on Spotify. It's a classic album to listen to when you wanna feel weird late at night.

September 21st 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

cheers boys!

September 22nd 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

was scrolling through RYM reviews of this record, mrbungle2103 did a way better job than me:

'Vincent Gallo is an arrogant bigoted horrible fuck of a human being. He is everything that a decent human being should not be - racist, homophobic, egotistical and a total fucking idiot to almost everyone he meets. Aside from the indecent racist crap he fills his website with, he's a convicted flasher, a bully, and seems to think the world revolves around his dirty sordid idiotic life.

Now that's out of the way lets get to stating how brilliant this album is. It is everything he is not - tender, gentle, beautiful and hypnotic. The fragility of it all perhaps goes to show why Gallo is such a brash aggressive fuckwit - he's afraid of everyone. Nevertheless this is beautiful stuff - there's really no need to highlight individual tracks because this works best a whole album.

But lets not forget though that Gallo is a cock. So, go burn the album and share it with your friends.'

April 8th 2018


Album Rating: 3.5

Gallo is a brilliant filmmaker and artist. He's super underrated for all the effort and meticulousness he puts into his work (music, film, fashion, whatever) the guy basically taught himself cinematography. He is extremely particular about what instruments and equipment he uses, even to the point that he refuses to record unless he has a certain colored guitar cable. He has a huge collection of records and Hi-fi equipment at his home. He's not just a filmmaker that turned musician, he's a fanatic. Plus he's just fucking hilarious, really. He has a way of being extremely blunt but still coming across as likable. A very rare quality. Anyway he's really not a douchebag IRL, he is very nice to his fans. If you email him on his website, he'll probably reply. He's pretty interesting. I sound like his publicist or something but I'm just a really big fan of him.

April 8th 2018


Album Rating: 3.0

Honey Bunny is a beaut

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