Craig Wedren - Lapland Review
by Patrick Muldowney
When I caught wind of this solo record, I gladly jumped at the opportunity to complete a review, hoping for something like Pony Express Record, which was a phenomenal undertaking, and praying for something unlike 50,000 B.C., which featured some great writing, but was incredibly overproduced. In Lapland, I got neither of the old Shudder albums, which was a wonderful surprise. Craig Wedren has such a strong voice, he could deliver better than pretty much any singer in any genre of music, but, given complete artistic freedom, he tones down the avant-punk sounds of his former band to deliver his strongest work to date.
Lapland begins as a western night club stop in a David Lynch film, accented by Wedren's harrowing croons of "Kingdom". The tempo is suitable for a slow dance, although only those with mascara running down their face could be pictured doing so, and Wedren portrays a godless place where, "fate takes a bribe/fate takes a dive/fate takes a bride." The next two songs, "Night Is Over" and "Do You Harm", fall into enjoyable romantic pop simplicity, before "Wanna Drive?" brings about thoughts of old Shudder to Think, fit with dissonant guitar work and postmodern poetry. "Don't want my tooth cut kitty on the curbside sink."
It is apparent that Wedren has been writing music for film by the time "Fifteen Minutes Late" arrives. Beginning acoustically, the music seamlessly transitions into a symphonic full sound. The dynamics are subtle, and perfectly crafted for the turning point of a love story. This may also be Wedren's best lyrical work, which is no small feat given his history, but my appreciation is evident by a temptation to type out the entire content of "Fifteen Minutes Late". Here's an out-of-context taste: "yesterday's muse/told me fate you can't choose, I'm afraid/and the things we can't change are/too great."
In a sea of great songs, "Born Curious" is the best song on Lapland. Simply constructed with power chords and a bit of the 50s-style swing, Wedren mixes in some oohs, dahs, and dums to create a melodic masterpiece. It is especially impressive how an observation like, "young punks use hunger as a major method of romance", exists with the simple chorus, "I'm so hot for her/heart so hyper", but that is what makes Lapland an impressive pop album.
On his myspace site, Wedren states that he "sometimes finds it lacking in flow", which has a bit of truth, especially as you get to the last few songs on the album, but he also does believe Lapland is "a collection of outstanding songs", and I concur.
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