Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

I remember reading the insert in Rage Against the Machine’s debut, where they seemed quite adamant in their statement that none of the recording was made using anything other than guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Even though I knew less about music production then, I was still surprised at the animosity of “rock” musicians towards their peers who chose to use electronics in their music.

Now, almost a decade later, while some of that attitude has disappated, I still hear people speak disapprovingly about those “pseudo-musicians” who compensate for their alledged lack of talent by using computers and keyboards. However, the truth of the matter is that while keyboards and computers certainly make it possible for anyone to make music, it certainly doesn’t help an untalented person make good music.

Luckily for Statistics, Denver Dailey has talent in spades.

His best known project is probably his Pinkerton-inspired collaboration with Bright Eyes’ Connor Oberst in the excellent and underrated Desaparecidos, who effectively showed us that Bright Eyes’ alter-ego had far more to offer than maudlin ruminations about life. Playing guitar and acting as primary songwriter in that band, Dailey fine tuned his ear for catchy melodies, and for finding energetic dynamics in the most unlikely places.

And it is in these unlikely places that we find Leave Your Name, because electronics aside, Denver has produced a record which could translate perfectly into a live band setting. Statistics is clearly and undeniably a rock band. Take the opener, “Sing a Song”, which begins with pulsing beeps and layers on a drum machine as Denver whispers something disparaging about music critics. But seconds later, as his vocals jump an octave or two and the wall of guitars crash into the song, you couldn’t be faulted for hearing a little Desaparecidos in the track.

Later, on “Mr.Nathan” – probably the highlight of the record – he shows that you can carry an entire song without vocals, and still provide the kind of visceral rock edge and dynamics at which some of the best frontman have failed. And while comparisons to Ben Gibbard’s Postal Service project are inevitable, “Mr. Nathan” shows exactly why those comparisons are unfounded.

If I had to find a flaw with the record, it’s that some of the ideas are overused, like the soft-electronics leading to huge guitar-based chorus, and others are barely acknowledged before being thrown aside, like some of the more interesting rhythm sections. But those small criticisms aside, Dailey has shown unequivocally that he deserves equal praise to his peers in the critically lauded Omaha indie scene.

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