Album Review: David Lynch, ‘Crazy Clown Time’: An Eerie Reflection

David Lynch is a director whose dark, twisted worlds have garnered him a cult following since his 1977 student release, Eraserhead. His stories are always weird and never straightforward: several websites are dedicated to positing theories on the meaning and timeline of Mullholland Dr.

So when long-time fans of the highly talented surreal director found out he had another trick up his sleeve—an album—they expected a re-emergence, this time in the music medium, of his Lynchian tropes.

Though those tropes do surface in Lynch’s full-length debut, they are many parts that don’t add up to a substantial album. Please believe that it pains us to critique any David Lynch product as “mediocre,” but this album doesn’t contain enough material for over an hour of play. By the seventh track, the Kraftwerkian “Strange and Unproductive Thinking,” where Lynch Auto-Tunes his voice to imitate a computer speaking in exhausting run-on sentences, our patience is worn. That track goes on too long and gets nowhere, and every song after that is just a re-tread of the earlier tracks.

Overall, Crazy Clown Time could be described as a slow western boot-stomper. Lynch takes on a cartoonish drawl as he sings in tracks like “Football Game” and “I Know.” The instrumental “The Night Bell with Lightning” is so genre it could be the theme song to Lynch’s OK Corral (a terrifying place where there’s at least one dead lady in a plastic bag, but Special Agent Dale Cooper recommends the coffee). Yet, the album is not homogenous. Opener “Pinky’s Dream” sounds like a lost Sonic Youth song, “Good Day Today” is chill dubstep, and “Noah’s Ark” is (appropriately) “the song of love,” as Lynch whispers in the track.

Crazy Clown Time could be a soundtrack for Lynch’s cumulative work. Echoing voices create an eerie atmosphere, populated with sexualized moaning and a violent undercurrent. This mix of sex and violence brings to mind Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks especially, and is most evident in the eponymous track. “Crazy Clown Time” is either about an impromptu orgy at a backyard picnic or a bar brawl that ends with a person on fire (walk with me). Lynch’s high pitched helium voice as he describes the “crazy clown time” scene is… just about as weird as it sounds. This song will be the soundtrack to your next nightmare.

Like stated earlier, there’s always more than one dimension to a Lynchian plot. So for Crazy Clown Time to feel, of all things, superficial seems like a mistake. And it just might be. We posit our own theory, which, at the moment, we can’t vouch, but that perhaps a more dedicated Lynch fan can prove: “Pinky’s Dream” is the missing link in the Mullholland Dr.story. It is the only song featuring a prominent female voice (none other than the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O), and includes the lyrics, “Please Pinky watch the road.” Mullholland Dr.begins with a car crash, and centers around two female protagonists—or are they the same person? Or is one imaginary? Just a theory. Like we said, it would take someone much more dedicated and with a much larger whiteboard than ours, to piece it all together.

Theories aside, the next time Lynch is filming in a bar at 3 p.m. and needs music as depressing as the scene, he’ll probably turn to Crazy Clown Time’s “These are My Friends,” but you should turn to another album entirely for an enjoyable listen.

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