Let’s get this out of the way with before going any further: Naytronix’s first LP, Dirty Glow, sounded like Flight of the Concords collaborating with Ross Geller.
Fortunately, however, on his second effort, Mister Divine, the artist otherwise known as Nate Brenner of tUnE-yArDs fame, has not handed us another unintentionally comic venture, though this, I can hardly call a feat. The bar, after all, has been set higher in the past.
Interestingly enough, though, his improvement did not arise from any radical shake-up. He is still performing with equal ramshackle. He still appears to raid the entire kitchen, throwing, indiscriminately, every ingredient he possibly can into the mix. Yet, this time, the results are different. Maybe it is serendipity, or stronger production values, or perhaps it is the fact that people can now tolerate the soundtrack to American gentrification. Regardless, the answer is unimportant. What matters is that Brenner actually ends up with a semi-decent record.
In fact, it is the near-uncritical deploying of various ideas, which, this time around makes exciting. The album is at its peak when Brenner is unpredictable, even a little perverse. His attempts at coining hooks are mediocre, but his psychedelic meanderings and indulgent cut ‘n’ paste melodies are a triumph.
Similar to Peter Kember’s method behind creating trippy soundscapes, Brenner knows that the weird moments, which resonate, are those that appear only once, and without warning. You may have to sit through twenty seconds of generic indie fluff, but, this is tolerable if you know out of nowhere, Brenner might freak out and let howl the synth sequel to Count Five’s ‘Psychotic Reaction’.
The one problem is that he overuses this asset. While the spaced-out jazzy bursts are a thrill on ‘Starting Over’, or ‘The Wall’, and his Lumpy Gravy era Frank Zappa impersonation on ‘Back in Time’ is a joy to behold, once you reach the album’s second half, it loses its value. Coming full circle, Naytronix pushes his nuttiness to such extremes that it becomes normal and once that fizz goes flat; there ain’t no songs to make the rest of the journey bearable.
It really is a shame. Mister Divine had the capacity to be the Outsider Music answer to Congratulations by MGMT, which is to say, a genuine modern psychedelic record made by a bona fide oddball. Yet, without the addictive quality of Goldwasser and VanWyngarden, sadly, Brenner ends up being the Koka Noodles to their Momofuku ramen. A bowl of it might satiate your hunger temporarily. In your college, you might even express your adoration for it, but realistically speaking, as time passes, and taste buds develop with experience, it will be a very empty cupboard, before you consider boiling the kettle for these noodles once more.