Today, six years after his last album, Jimmy Tamborello (AKA Dntel) releases his third album, Dumb Luck. Don’t think the long stretch of inactivity is due to
Tamborello being lazy, though; he’s actually been pretty busy. During the las few years, Dntel been a highly active producer, and has been involved in several other projects; the most notable being the Postal Service. In ’03 Dntel and Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie) released the Postal Service’s critically acclaimed debut, Give Up. Postal Service’s second album is currently being recorded, and is slated for release later this year; maybe that’s why Dumb Luck is so underwhelming.
Dumb Luck isn’t necessarily a bad album; but it isn’t a very good one either. It falls somewhere in between. The stable of artists that Dntel works with on the album doesn’t exactly help the album; instead, they lend the album a disjointed feel, like it’s more of a compilation of collaborations than a real record. Beyond the intro song, there’s little cohesion between tracks. Most tracks blend into one another, with the same bland beats and uninsprired vocals.
However, the vocals probably aren’t the vocalists fault; it’s hard to put much energy into such trite lyrics. They’re the same sappy lyrics Dntels been throwing together for years, and they only get more annoying with every album. Perhaps the whole album suffers from the same problem as the lyrics; almost every songs exudes the same “been there, done that” feeling. Theres hardly any experimentation, any evolution in Tamborello’s sound.
If it weren’t for two or three great songs, Dumb Luck would be the epitome of mediocrity. However, a few tracks are excellent, and unsuprisingly, they’re the tracks that take the most risks. ‘Rock My Boat’ featuring Mia Doi Todd and ‘Roll On’ with Jenny Lewis are both very good. But the best track, the one that always seems to find itself on repeat, is the Conor Oberst collaboration, ‘Breakfast In Bed’. With it’s glitchy, twangy beats, and remorseful ‘morning-after’ lyrics, it’s one of the better songs in either artist’s library. If there’s a reason to by Dumb Luck it’s for these three tracks.
Like I said earlier, Dumb Luck is neither a great nor bad albu; it’s a little better than mediocre. Sure, most tracks are cliched filler, but there are some great ones too. If you’re willing to hit the skip and repeat button a lot, then you should be okay with Dumb Luck. Let’s just hope the new Postal Service album turns out better. Far better.