Crazy Clown Time may be David Lynch's first solo album, but he’s far from a newcomer to music-making. He worked so closely with Angelo Badalamenti on the soundtracks to his films and television shows that the term “Lynchian” can be applied to music as well as movies, and his work with acts such as Blue Bob, Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous, and Danger Mouse as a musician and sound designer underscored that he has clear, and creative, musical ideas of his own. He continues to explore these ideas -- plus a few new ones -- on Crazy Clown Time, handling all the instrumental and vocal duties, with one notable exception: opening track “Pinky’s Dream,” which features the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O. A careening joyride of a song, it harnesses Lynch's surreal storytelling and O's breathless wail to thrilling effect; it’s so good that Lynch should consider doing more collaborations like this and Dark Night of the Soul. The second track, “Good Day Today,” is nearly as striking, if only because on the surface, it seems like such a departure from Lynch's usual approach. Its brisk synth pop and slightly processed vocals added to the single’s mysterious air when it was released on a small U.K. label nearly a year before the album arrived, but the way its tentative hopefulness hovers above ominous industrial sounds is pure Lynch. After this pop gambit, Crazy Clown Time gets progressively weirder -- or perhaps progressively more normal for a David Lynch album. “The Night Bell with Lightning” and “I Know,” previously the B-side to “Good Day Today,” serve up the kind of avant-surf and roadhouse blues played at Twin Peaks’ One Eyed Jack’s or The Pink Room, while the eerie “Movin’ On” recalls how the soundtrack to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me edged away from the TV show’s dreamy nostalgia into much more unpredictable territory. However, the album offers more than just one flavor of eccentricity: on “Strange and Unproductive Thinking,” Lynch tackles everything from cosmic awareness to tooth decay in a vocodered tone that evokes electronic pioneer Bruce Haack; the dark innocence of “These Are My Friends” suggests Daniel Johnston. Appropriately, “Crazy Clown Time” is the most twisted of all, pairing a nightmarish musique concrète backdrop with a spoken word rant that sounds like Lynch reading a new screenplay and voicing all of the characters. Even if Crazy Clown Time isn’t as accessible as some of the collaborations that arrived shortly before the album, Lynch fans will appreciate it as another example of his ability to put his unmistakable stamp on every art form he attempts.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares