Dirty Three: Whatever You Love, You Are

Dirty Three: Whatever You Love, You Are

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Dirty Three

Album: Whatever You Love, You Are
Label: Touch And Go

The inherent risk of working from a specific and limited palette—in Dirty Three's case, a violinist, a guitarist, and a drummer, with no vocals—is that you'll most likely come up with a specific and limited result. The trick, as mastered by the likes of Low (simple, elemental pop music, played very slowly) and Morphine (drums, baritone sax, two-string slide bass, and dusky vocals), is to resist the temptation to try something you don't do well while subtly stretching the boundaries of your sound. Dirty Three's fifth full-length album, Whatever You Love, You Are, doesn't stretch those boundaries the way its predecessor (1998's languidly lovely Ocean Songs) did, but at least it's rehashing great ideas. The 13-minute "I Offered It Up To The Stars & The Night Sky" emulates the momentum-building structure and sound of Horse Stories' amazing "Sue's Last Ride," but you can't go wrong with that song as your reference point. "I Offered It Up" is Whatever You Love's centerpiece (and masterpiece), while the material surrounding it—particularly the elegant, similarly familiar "I Really Should've Gone Out Last Night"—complements Dirty Three's catalog beautifully. Whatever You Love's six songs don't illuminate too many unexplored corners of the group's beautifully evocative, intensely dramatic sound, and the album doesn't quite stack up to its more groundbreaking predecessors. But just because it's not career-defining doesn't mean it's not great.