DAMIEN RICE > 9

With the release of his 2002 debut O, Damien Rice became one of indie rocks most engaging singer/songwriters, stripping his tracks down to the bare necessities through introspection and profound humility.Label: WARNER BROTHERS
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

With the release of his 2002 debut O, Damien Rice became one of indie rocks most engaging singer/songwriters, stripping his tracks down to the bare necessities through introspection and profound humility. With a discreet and understated genius, the scope of his poetics crept deep into the underbelly of the beast, unearthing the murky quagmires of life with simplicity, honesty and pure humanity-a quintessential recipe for critical acclaim. Four years later, Rice returns with 9, pungently self-aware and with what appears to be thicker skin.

Treading similar terrain stylistically, 9 offers a more vibrant and vigorous attempt at lyricism which-in the long run-may in fact be to the records detriment. Abandoning his downplayed melancholy, has injected a tension and anxiety with even a touch of fury to compliment his underscore of resentment. When taken as a whole, this is an unfortunate discombobulating force. Such changes may attest to a new, overtly meta-cognizant approach toward songwriting for Rice. Where his debut rang true with an endearing morass and casual remittance of bitterness, 9 feels purposeful and contrived. From the over-extension of his voice to the grandiose chorus of “Fuck You” on track “Rootless Tree,” this self-loathing exercise in vanity has more akin to Conor Oberst than would be expected or, for that matter, appreciated by Rice’s fan base. Such a method may of course be a self-conscious reaction to fame for Rice, a man known to be concerned with his personal authenticity and artistic sensibilities. Regrettably, as a last ditch effort to take control over his public persona, his profundity is weakened as he makes his way down the path of parody.