Awful Joy

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There's little to recommend in this debut release from oddball indie rocker Alexander Lowry. He can turn a phrase when he wants, but he simply can't sing, and his playing tends toward the rudimentary. Lowry's willful outsider eccentrism on Awful Joy tends toward the annoying and dissonant, and any comparisons he's received to the equally eccentric but far more adept Beck are unfounded and undeserved. The album's bloated 63-minute length feels even longer by virtue of endless repetitions of pedestrian lines like "Can I have some of what you've got?" ("What You Got") and "When you drove by" ("Fourth of July") that truly test the listener's patience. Worst of all is the extremely excessively long "Imo Fight You," which dissolves into needless cacophony. There are positives in the gritty groove of "Kensington Cowboy" and the lyrical twists of "Jukebox Heart," but even the latter's cello-laced Americana can't begin to salvage this album. Consider it nine parts awful to one part joy.

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