posted on July 19, 2009 19:00
A review of the album 'Un' by Dan Black
Review Snapshot: A clumsy, witless attempt at dancefloor-friendly electro-rock, the solo record by The Servant’s lead singer is quite awful. No amount of effects and beats can disguise its tired rawk-isms and Blunt-esque vocals. Stay well away from it.
The Cluas Verdict? 2 out of 10
You might know Dan Black as the singer with The Servant, who had some minor success with singles like ‘Liquefy’ and ‘Orchestra’. With this solo album, Black is closer to dancefloor electro-rock than the guitar emo-ness of his now-defunct band. Riffs are heavily treated and rhythms scurry frantically out of a box. And the title, ‘Un’, implies that this record is not like his previous work and perhaps (if one counts in French) the first step in a new direction.
In truth, though, the touches of electronica are merely dressing up the same old formulaic rock of The Servant. The writing is your standard verse-chorus-verse structure where Black clearly doesn’t have the melodic touch to craft a killer hook; to move from verse to chorus all he can do is awkwardly and mechanically raise his pitch as if his trousers had suddenly tightened, in an effort at cooking up some kind of emotional intensity.
The lyrics fall into two schools: those where Black can’t think past lame cock-rock clichés of angst-ridden love and soft-focus sex (‘Ecstasy’, where he sings about heartbreak one minute and slipping between soft white sheets the next, is particularly nauseating) and those that are laboured efforts at being poetic. Of the latter, the height/depth is a particularly contrived couplet from ‘Wonder’: “You ran off through the corn/And your Smiths T-shirt got torn”. Corn is right.
Black’s strangled, whining voice hasn’t changed since the last Servant record. In particular, his delivery of the main hook in the chorus of ‘Wonder’ (“Where are you now?”) is a truly horrible listening experience. His singing is the main obstacle to overcome if you are to like this record, so it’s hard to imagine anyone hating The Servant but falling for Black solo.
Quite simply, ‘Un’ by Dan Black is a lazy, unimaginative effort to pass off stale rock as fresh electro. If the title is indeed Black counting in French, let us hope he doesn’t get to ‘Deux’.