As with his finest Lemonheads songs, the bitterness is always delivered with a...
Chris Jones 2003-03-14
Of course it's hard to write any review of Evan Dando'sdebutalbum without using phrases like 'return from the wilderness' or 'long-awaited comeback'. However recent interviews with Dando reveal a man hardly contrite about his lost weekend that lasted 5 years! It has to be argued that being lazily labelled as grunge's posterboy and hanging around with Courtney Love would send any man over the edge. Yet let's not forget that Dando is the king of the dissolute lyric, and there's definitely something awry if this album doesn't make you feel like curling up with a bottle of Tequila. Don't worry it does.
Baby I'm Bored doesn't contain the rolling around on the floor guitar mayhem that we've come to expect. The grunge tag applied to Evan over the years is finally laid to rest with a set of songs that confirm his place in the pantheon of acts currently filed under 'alt country'. Indeed, Giant Sand make an appearance on the closer "In The Grass All Wine Colored".
The lo-fi production by Bryce Goggin and Jon Brion (who contributes several co-writing credits) focuses firmly on Dando's voice. It's lost none of its ability to deliver memorable hooks with the kind of insouciant charm that thankfully hasn't been diminished by his legendary self-abuse.
Sure, regret has its place here. It's hard not to read an autobiographical slant in "Why Do You Do This To Yourself?" and "All My Life" is a lament to wasted opportunities. Yet, as with his finest Lemonheads songs, the bitterness is always delivered with a self-deprecating humour. "Looks Like You" and "Stop My Head" are as jaunty and radio-friendly as anything he's ever done. "Rancho Santa Fe" is like Calexico shooting it out with Wilco at high noon (all dusty samples and southern doom), and "Hard Drive" must rate as one of the loveliest country shuffles in years.
For all its low-key charms, this is a positive reaffirmation of the talent we all knew Dando had in him. Let's just hope that he's now on to more productive ground. Give us more Evan, now!