The Germans invented the word "wunderkind" for a reason. Case in point, Omaha whiz kid Denver Dalley, whose one-man-rock-machine Statistics garners such Teutonic praise with ease. The towering Dalley (6’3"!) used to play guitar and co-write for Conor Oberst’s "other" band, Desaparacidos, though evidently Oberst’s penchant for out-and-out sludge and look-at-me emotional histrionics didn’t quite fit his more understated bandmate. Under the Statistics moniker, Dalley plays Lou Barlow to Oberst’s J Mascis, as he strikes out on his own with a simpler, more direct take on his old band’s signature sound.
Statistics’ new album, Often Lie, features an army of Dalleys: The talented multi-instrumentalist handles everything from guitar and vocals to vintage synths, drums, and beat programming (thus the "wunderkind" label). Despite the album’s insular process, the "band" sounds huge. Opener "Final Broadcast" begins with muted guitar jangle, instantly demolished by a fuzzed-out power chord, fading into a teen-angst-anthem chorus with a heartwrenching melody. Dalley knows his pop songcraft, and Statistics’ songs are uniformly lean and catchy.
Dalley whispers the kind of starkly confessional, emotionally naked lyrics that seem to come easier to the alienated Midwestern psyche. On the standout "A Foreword," an achingly sweet tune wafts over a pummeling rhythm section and buzzing synths. In the midst of the maelstrom, Dalley offers a paean skyward: "A way to begin, let’s start over / I’m dying to be living and / Things seem better from the start / I don’t care if I finish this time." Statistics romanticizes teen angst like a heart-covered journal, finding a warm corner in between disparate strains of emo-punk and nestling in for a lonely night.