A disappointment. It starts off with “Times Square, Poison Season 1,” wherein Dan Bejar delivers the album’s best melody (“You can follow a rose, wherever it grows…”) before he oversells both the melody and his distinctive voice in one of the most grotesque performances you’ll hear this year (“You can fall in love with Times Squaahhhhhh / Times Squaahhhhhhh”). It’s fucking horrifying – you’d think he was being ironic about it, but apparently, he really does love Times Square. But regardless of that and despite the vague lyrics that don’t mean anything to anyone (“Jesus is beside himself / Jacob’s in a state of decimation / The writing on the wall wasn’t writing at all”; no, his intellect is assuredly not an event), the opener is a solid stage-setter: atmospheric, tuneful, sad (ie. the sobering, sparse piano line in the outro) – all of the things that Kaputt was, remember? And then! He follows it up with a Bruce Springsteen pastiche that not only sounds dumb, it sounds completely out of place on the record (such that he felt the need to apologize for it in an interview with Pitchfork).
The album then regains its footing with its two best songs (“Forces From Above,” “Hell”) that both juxtapose string arrangements with tribal drums and a jazz horn, respectively, before proceeding to spin its wheels for nine more songs over what feels like an hour with another stilted rocker (“Midnight Meet the Rain”) to break up the monotony.