Chciago Sun Times (Indie Rock) Review of Skin * * *
Chicago Sun Times
Lindsey Buckingham, "Under the Skin" (Reprise)
Critic's rating: * * *
OK, so Reprise Records, a division of Warner Bros., doesn't technically qualify as "indie" rock. But that descriptor is a genre now, a music style, and the man behind the Mac has made a record we can file fairly comfortably between Elliott Smith and Iron & Wine. For a man who drops solo records as infrequently as Donald Fagen or the Blue Nile -- blame his bread-and-butter gig, Fleetwood Mac, which drains his reservoir of songs every time they reunite ("Tango in the Night" and "Say You Will" both were Buckingham solo efforts molded into band albums) -- expectations usually are high. He has yet to disappoint, though, and this intimate outing -- almost entirely just voice and guitar -- is an intriguing refinement of his core talents.
That said, it's worth mentioning that -- aside from his colossal and underappreciated skills as a guitarist -- Buckingham's true talents aren't numerous. His voice is thin and dry; his lyrics average at the 10th-grade level. But what keeps us Lindsey lovers coming back is his powerful aesthetic. He's the quintessential studio rat, turning every weakness into a strength through clever use of effects and surprising, often unsettling arrangements. That voice is positively ghostly and enchanting throughout these 11 tracks, the result of some crazy-close miking that makes every hesitation as powerful as what he actually says or sighs.
"Shut Us Down" (previewed earlier on the "Elizabethtown" soundtrack) finds him whispering bitter nothings in our ears, and the hissing observations of the title track really do get under our skin (in the good, Cole Porter way). His simmering paranoia still lives in the frenetic fingerpicking and the controlled hysteria of the slapback sounds (he's starting to sound like Dwight Twilley in that regard); unfortunately, by disc's end there haven't been enough melodies to hang an ear on. But it does eventually get under there.
2006-10-14 Number of views: