First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2005, Volume 12, #5
Written by John Metzger
Much has been made of the notion that Haughty Melodic is Mike Doughty’s first effort to feature a backing band since his days fronting Soul Coughing, but the truth of the matter is that he has shed his innovative and artful ways for a derivative blend of singer/songwriter-oriented musings and ’90s-fashioned, alt-rock fare. Gone are the beatnik poetry readings, the hip-hop undercurrents, and the jazz-inflected melodies that made his music interesting and helped him to develop a faithful following. Instead, Doughty’s songs now are smeared with the sort of cliché-riddled production techniques that typically adorn outings that are designed for widespread, mainstream exposure. For example, wisps of pedal steel guitar drift customarily across the folk-infused strains of White Lexus as well as the country-blues ruminations of American Car, while the intro to Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well is plucked directly from Rusted Root’s Send Me on My Way. Perhaps the most notable aspects of the album, then, are the flourishes of classic rock-bred psychedelia that alternate between peeking around the edges and bursting through the center of his arrangements. However, these textures also are, at their best, innocuously ornamental; at their worst, they are puzzlingly arrogant. There’s no question that throughout Haughty Melodic Doughty demonstrates an uncanny ability to craft an infectious groove and carry it with his soulful, yet deadpan vocals, but unfortunately, the end result is something so superficial and safe that none of it really matters.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box