Sometimes I can’t make heads or tails of an album, and it’s a good thing. Those can be the albums that stretch your whole idea of what’s aesthetically satisfying about music. Then there’s Trophies by The Box Flower, known to his mom as Daniel Weston Payne. I can tell he’s an artist because the CD comes in a woodcut printed sleeve and includes a booklet with the lyrics printed with hand-set type. The packaging itself is a work of art, made in a limited edition of 89 copies.
The music itself is nice enough, with a nice contrast between distorted electronic beats and polite pop songs. The lyrics, though, strike an odd note. The most arresting images feel a little unsettling, as on “The Flood,” when he sings “the springtime breeze smells like stolen spit and selfish betrayal.” It’s a breakup song, and it’s perfectly okay to express bitterness or unresolved emotional conflict, but I can’t get any purchase on that simile. Who would steal spit? What would (or could) selfish betrayal smell like?
I do like his whistling, though, especially on “Hide and Seek.” The close harmony, simple melody, and spare lyric hang together and feel emotionally genuine. “Indian Summer” is pretty okay as well, with a driving drum machine beat and an odd (in a good way) use of Autotune.
Maybe I’m just the wrong guy to be listening to this CD, because everything about it should add up to something, and I’m totally missing it. It’s definitely not bad, but honestly I don’t know what the hell it really is.