The filmmaker whose very name has become an adjective just released his second album, The Big Dream, and it’s as “Lynchian” as you’d expect, thanks to his love of blues music, decades of film scoring experience and penchant for all things unsettling.
Both the album name and lead-off title track remind us of that by trumpeting his career-long obsession with dreams, but also Matrix-like questioning of reality. Here, life itself is actually “The Big Dream,” one that can’t be taken too seriously or literally. Musically, he accomplishes this goal with a reverb-heavy dub influence, seen throughout most of this down-tempo album.
This musical sci-fi quality is accentuated by his voice – the wildcard element of his style. As a man pushing 70 but only now becoming comfortable as a musician, he experiments with his intense nasally delivery, even going as far as filtering it through a flanger on the “duck for cover” warning “Sun Can’t Be Seen No More.” He doesn’t back away from his vocal shortcomings, but instead emphasizes them to further his ‘uncomfortable factor.’ This, mixed with panicked lyrics, suggest UFO visits to the seedy-desert-bar scene. Whether these effects work depends largely on the listener – choose to immerse yourself in that world, and you’ll get your creeps (in a good way). Otherwise, it will just resemble H.R. from Bad Brains on a particularly cringe-worthy day.
Speaking of cringing, “I Want You” is the standout “creepy” track. The lyrics just state an ambiguous romantic interest, but they’re delivered in the style of Salad Fingers cornering you in a room and confessing a possessive (and unrequited) crush with a nervous stutter, not taking “no” for an answer – all over a stark 60BPM trudge. Consider this through these sonic eyes:
I want you
I want, I want
Love you so
I want you
Mmmmm, make you mine
All the time
Mmmmm, I want you
Love, come back!
Still, in Lynch’s realm, The Big Dream acts as more of a psychological thriller, while Crazy Clown Time was a closer to an audio equivalent of the SAW franchise – raw and disturbing, heavy on shock value. The Big Dream is also softened by a couple 50’s slow dance ballads in 6/8. As if his whole mission in life is indeed to put bugs under your skin, Lynch admits surrender on each of these ballads. In “Are You Sure,” he warns that “you just might fall in line” to the “power of the dream,” if that dream is pop normalcy. Later he boils it down further on “Cold Wind Blowin’:” “The game’s over/You win/I lose.”
Though If that’s really what “the dream” refers to here, he needn’t fret – this album came with plenty of “I’m never gonna take you back home” moments, and isn’t recommended to the bubblegum fiend. Consider the masochists satisfied, Mr. Lynchian. Let’s get weird.