Upon first hearing “Old Lives”, the opening track to Daniel Francis Doyle‘s upcoming LP, We Bet Our Money On You, I contemplated what the chances were that Doyle was actually Dismemberment Plan’s Travis Morrison backed by Battles. Doyle certainly has a Morrison-esque vocal styling; that perfect pitch that sounds just a bit off-kilter. And his percussion and accompanying guitars absolutely have the math-y noise elements of Battles.
It’s a sound that, after listening to We Bet Our Money On You for the first time, simply must be placed on repeat. The out-there harmonies which give Doyle the Morrison reference are superb in “Street Stress”, as well as “Fighter’s Son”. It’s in these songs, too, where the backing math rock is forefront and at its most vibrant.
What’s interesting is that it’s not always like this. Doyle drops his sticks from time to time for a stripped-down sound. What’s miraculous is that these songs that lack the math rock, lack the noise — they don’t sound out of place, not in the least. Daniel Francis Doyle, then is a master at this duality of sound.
Where the typical Daniel Francis Doyle is eclectic and erratic, the softer side of Doyle is minimalistic. “Send You Away” finds Doyle on vocals backed only by stringed instruments, while “Your Baby Is Speaking” is merely vocals and paino. These songs are highly melodic with intense attention to every note, each instrument’s entrance, and every musical nuance. And there are also in-between moments, as heard in the songs “Your Cursive” and “Learning Things At School”.
We Bet Our Money On You is an impressive dichotomy of musical styling, from the highly erratic math-noise, to the softer intricacies of the same, to the minimalist detail scarce but rewarding nonetheless. What may be the most astonishing element is Daniel Francis Doyle is just that — one man. He has no accompaniment, no additional members. It is his genius and his genius alone… We Bet Our Money On You is easily a favorite discovery of 2009.
Daniel Francis Doyle: Learning Things At School [mp3]
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We Shot JR [CD, 2009]
1. Old Lives
2. Street Stress
3. Fighter’s Son
4. Send You Away
5. Learning Things At School
6. Your Cursive
7. How Can You Work?
8. Your Baby Is Speaking
9. Always Calm