| ||Ill Lit |
Possibly the most dangerously titled album of the year, Tom Cruise (the album) would make old "Dancing Briefs Boy Who Worships Scientological Gods" pretty damn proud of his name, if he ever dared sit down and listen to this beautifully crafted album. In fact, if the Church of Scientology were smart, they would snap up this recently free-lance band and make them the official soundtrack artists for the upcoming alien invasion. But more than likely, this title will only serve to fill up a paragraph of some lame critic's fruitless attempt to describe the twisted beauty of this record.
Somewhere squarely between Wilco and the Flaming Lips (though these two bands could use a little of what Ill Lit is selling), Ill Lit delivers a deceptively upbeat message of heartbreak and loss of hope, complete with broken electronics and layers and layers of sweet harmonies (courtesy of lead singer and songwriter Daniel Ahearn and conspirator David J.) Each of ten tracks is over-full with interesting parts and small nuances, rewarding the listener with a new experience almost every time, without becoming muddled or overly busy. The instrumentation is lush and diverse, and expertly recorded by Los Angeles recording genius Michael Rozon.
Opening with a reverb-soaked piano ballad about the meaning of home to someone who has lived in three different places in as many years, Tom Cruise continues on with its oddly enchanting mixture of chopped up electronic beats and glistening acoustic guitars. The ultimate realization of this mixed media technique is the instant hit "Los Angeles". With a driving kick-snare beat, chiming electric guitars and veering voices coming from all sides, the song quickly builds into a bass-busting monster, with David J. ripping a REM lyric straight out of "It's the End of the World". But it will get the Echo Park hipsters dancing til the ceilings sweat, and that is what is important.
Some of the tracks fall a little too close to Ahearn's country leanings for my taste (like "The Bridge in Tracy" and "Satan's Doing Fine Without Me"), but there are no apologies for someone so sincere in their art. What must be remembered is that this is a truly new piece of musical work, crossing so many strains of sound to create something unique and oddly compelling.
- Grant Capes | 2006-05-08