Caleb Landry Jones

Gadzooks, Vol. 1

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Gadzooks, Vol. 1 Review

by Timothy Monger

Caleb Landry Jones dives even deeper down the psych-rock K-hole on his chaotic sophomore LP. Arriving just one year after the Texan's sprawling debut, Gadzooks, Vol. 1 is every bit as cluttered and unfocused as its predecessor, though mercifully shorter in length. After building an impressive career as a film actor, Jones launched an alternate career as an experimental singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Upon recommendation from auteur Jim Jarmusch, he was added to the roster of edgy Brooklyn indie Sacred Bones, which released his first psychedelic opus, The Mother Stone, in 2020. Written in New Mexico during a dystopian film shoot with Tom Hanks, his follow-up is another kitchen sink of interesting ideas that would greatly benefit from some kind of through-line. Resuming his collaboration with producer Nic Jodoin, Jones presents a mixture of ornamental psych-pop, prog rock ambitions, and a dose of wiry punk energy. That may sound intriguing on paper, but his tendency to flit endlessly from part to part seems to squelch any lasting impact his songs might have. Sequenced together without gaps, the tracks run up against each other in disjointed crescendos and manic mood swings as Jones sings in a distracting variety of affected timbres and accents. Perhaps it's the tendency of a character actor to play to his wide range, but even when songs stick around long enough to develop, like on the breezy "Yesterday Will Come," they rely more on repetition and vintage psych-pop motifs than content. In that way, Jones is reminiscent of Kiwi psych jester Connan Mockasin, another talented but frustrating artist with thematic commitment issues. After eight tracks ranging in length from 39 seconds to almost five minutes, Gadzooks closes with "This Won't Come Back," a freewheeling 20-minute assemblage of wonky experimentation whose ethereal second half is surprisingly the album's most satisfying section.

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