Dirty Pictures

Shuttin' Out the World

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The debut release by the San Francisco by way of Dublin band the Dirty Pictures is an accomplished mining of the downbeat side of indie rock, though not of monumental significance. Singer/guitarist Pierce Healy favors the slightly lower-register, slightly swooping low-octane croon endemic to many records of this sort, at times approaching (but not quite milking) a smoky underground lounge vibe. The songs are imbued with a sense of hermetic foreboding -- what do you expect from an album titled Shuttin' Out the World? -- without surrendering to gloomy despair. They do themselves a big favor by garnishing the core guitar rock sound with a fair number of unpredictable instrumental spices, like eerie electronic distortion, spooky decaying guitar reverb, cello, churchy organ, and what the credits term "centipede autoguitars" (whatever those are), throwing in a spooky instrumental ("A Terrible Beauty") midstream. For a self-released CD with no label or catalog number, it's a remarkably assured and layered, atmospheric production. The songwriting, though, is inconsistent, some numbers (like "Whiskey," "Distraction," and "Do You Feel the Same?") far more memorable than others. Too, like a lot of records that incessantly probe the simmering dark side, one's attention tends to wander toward the latter part of the disc. Most likely, however, they know their audience, the final cut ("Out There") being a song about going down to the record store in a daily unfulfilled search for a record worth living for. This particular record isn't it, but it'll be admired by some of those very introverts who make such daily pilgrimages.

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