Articles tagged with The Daredevil Christopher Wright

A band, not a man

When I first heard “The Daredevil Christopher Wright,” the eponymously-titled song by the Daredevil Christopher Wright, I was under the assumption that Christopher Wright was the group’s lead singer. I was, therefore, understandably taken aback by the song’s group-sung refrain, “I wanna grow up to be Christopher Wright.” I soon learned, however that the group’s namesake is actually a (fictional?) stuntman who suffered the fate referred to by the album title In Deference to a Broken Back. So what initially seemed like a brazenly self-congratulatory singalong is actually an unsettling invitation for an early death, a message that’s in keeping with the album’s morbid tone.

Opening track “Hospital” describes ascending to heaven, its plaintive melody sitting atop of a bed of sawing strings and wordless moans. The rest of the album is similarly preoccupied with mortality, from the ghostly waltz “Acceptable Loss” to the bouncy “Bury You Alive,” which makes the grisly promise of its title sound almost cheerful. Nearly every track features dense strings arrangements and rich choral harmonies, transforming the group’s oddball folk songs into baroque hymns that recall Fleet Foxes at their darkest. The eeriness is intensified by singer Jon Sunde’s high, nasal vocals, which sound a bit like he took a hit of helium before the recording sessions.

Occasionally, the band makes an unexpected foray into bubblegum rock, as on “A Conversation About Cancer,” which retells the story of David and Goliath with sunny harmonies and a skipping, countrified beat. “A Near Death Experience at Sea” similarly belies its title with joyous horn flourishes and goofy doo-wop vocals.

The album finishes with “The Stewardess,” an unexpectedly sobered love song with deep vocals that makes Sunde’s voice sound practically normal. Beginning with the lyric “Won’t you come back? / I’m not the same without you, without you / Let’s face the facts / Not nearly as clever, as funny to anybody but you.” It’s so heartbreaking in its simplicity that it diminishes somewhat from the achievement of the rest of the album. After all, if the Daredevil Christopher Wright is this good at writing uncomplicated folk pop, why bother with the quirky bells and whistles (literally) of the rest of the album? Nevertheless, In Deference to a Broken Back is as beautiful as it is creepy, making it one of the year’s stand-out debut albums.
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