Angela Desveaux Wandering Eyes

[Thrill Jockey; 2006]

Rating: 1/5

Styles: alternative pop, country rock
Others: Lucinda Williams, The Sundays

"Heartbeat/ Can you relate/ It's been so long/ Keepin' you steady." That's how the chorus to "Heartbeat," the first song on this record, goes, and sweet Mother of God it's one disappointing refrain, especially at the end of the honey-soaked verse that precedes it. In those first few seconds, it seems like Ms. Desveaux, a Montreal native making her solo recording debut, is going to get alt-country just right. No Bloodshot-style "insurgent" posturing, no belabored constructions of authenticity, no flat "subversions," no adult-alternative cheddar seeps through "Heartbeat"'s opening gamut. We just get pristine multi-tracked guitar lines that interlock more gracefully than those of many of Desveaux's post-rock labelmates (you know, the ones who try really damn hard to make their studio tricks sound "seamless") and a spry melody sung like it's coming from your best friend. But friendship thrives on conversation, and this chat needs more than a trite chorus to keep the ball rolling — it sounds like Desveaux's giving up when she gets to the hook.

The rest of Wandering Eyes follows a similar trajectory, making alluring passes and failing to follow through, the breakdown always coming in the recycled lyrics. Country music has a well-established lyrical framework with recognizable conventions, but the trick to doing the style well isn't repackaging the same themes in pleasant garb, but rather giving worn tropes new life — or as moms everywhere put it, "it's not what you say but how you say it." And Desveaux says her peace in the most colorless terms imaginable.

1. Heartbeat
2. Familiar Times
3. Wandering Eyes
4. If Only
5. Bury Me Deeper
6. Sick of Fools
7. Make up Your Mind
8. All the Talk
9. Feel Alright
10. Good Intentions

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