Dumpster Hunter is a project led by primary songwriter and guitarist Jeff Taylor, a versatile singer with a raspy croon that performs acrobatics on the moniker's debut, Frustration in Time Travel. From the quiet seduction of Taylor's vocals on "It Swell" to the all-out blues lamentation "Bastard," on first listen it's hard to predict how big he'll go next, which can be both unbalancing and impactful. As Taylor sings, whistles, scats, and growls his way through the tracks, the volatility of his vocals matches the mercurial nature of the album as a whole. The under two-minute "Heart Hard" is a dance-club thumper that begs for a ten-minute remix, and leads into the Les Claypool-like erraticism of "Repeat We Are"; "Howl You" is a lovely, unvarnished ballad duet with Elizabeth Ziman, while "C2" is a masterful polymetric crossover jazz work with controlled vocals. If there's a constant on the album, it's Taylor's artful lyrics, which exhibit a steady playfulness mixed with sincerity that charms in any style. Even the titles of some songs play with syntax, seeming nonsensical until heard in context, such as "Heart Hard" and "It Swell" ("I believe I could get you to call me just by lettin' it swell"). Imagery is another strength of the lyrics, with lines like "The last ball popped on/The wheel slowed to a stop/It landed on some number I drew on my arm" from "C2," and from "Howl You": "Fruit stands in summer with cardboard signs tear me to shreds/With little kids smiling secrets of how I should let this all go" -- lasting images and notable phrasing. Frustration in Time Travel has a level of fearlessness -- musically, vocally, and lyrically -- that is often lacking in eager-to-please debuts. Despite a certain lack of cohesion, the album impresses with its drama, prowess, and potential.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson