Dwayne Sodahberk: Cut Open

Dwayne Sodahberk's third full-length is a decidedly less loony affair than what typically emerges from the Tigerbeat foxhole. Recorded between 2002 and 2005 in Stockholm and Paris, the fifteen-song collection finds Sodahberk courting a breezy, sixties-flavoured folk-pop vibe occasionally waylaid by raw electronic noise and experimental production treatments. Such trickery never wholly conceals the melodic sensibility that pushes its way to the fore of even the most off-kilter track (believe it or not, the most accurate term to describe “White Hand” is pretty). While Sodahberk's soft vocalizing is certainly credible, he opts to share the mike with three guests: Nudge's Honey Owens adds vocal sweetener to the hazy glitch-folk opener “Cambiocorsa,” Maria Kihlberg appears on a couple of songs, and Picastro's Liz Hysen adds vocals and violins to a trio of other cuts. The melancholy “Something Dear” stands out as particularly well-realized, as does “Tell Me When You Wake,” the latter enhanced by delicate harmonizing from Kihlberg and Sodahberk; the baroque melodies that chime throughout “Late Summer” even suggest a Brian Wilson influence. The haunted folk songs “In the Shed” and “Just Above” are the kind of material laid down in a hotel room at 4 a.m. with one's finger on the trigger—a world apart from the buzz-saw guitar choruses that explode during “Open Cuts.” Though an accompanying press note may be correct in describing the album as Sodahberk's most listener-friendly album to date, it also cryptically suggests one “(b)etter enjoy that while it lasts,” and that too is probably wise advice.

May 2006