Evan Dando: Baby I'm Bored

Evan Dando: Baby I'm Bored

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Evan Dando

Album: Baby I'm Bored
Label: Bar None

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Seven years after disappearing following the release of 1996's Car Button Cloth, an album that foreshadowed a burnout with even its cheeriest moments, former Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando has returned with Baby I'm Bored, a record that solidifies the persona he's been inching toward for years. He's now the alt-rock Marianne Faithfull, trafficking in tales of excess, degradation, and finding the light at the end of the tunnel while keeping one eye fixed on the underworld. "I can't believe how far I slipped, but secretly I'm glad I did," the recently married, more-or-less cleaned-up Dando sings on "The Same Thing," and he echoes the sentiment throughout the album. Baby I'm Bored's best tracks are unassuming confessionals, even those in which Dando didn't pen the confessions himself. "Hard Drive" and "All My Life" come from longtime fan Ben Lee, who seems to have as good a grasp of the singer's persona as Dando does himself. Not that Dando's songwriting contributions–including collaborations with co-producer Jon Brion, among others–should be overlooked. "Why Do You Do This To Yourself" offers another heartfelt foray into country music, while "It Looks Like You" could pass for a lost track from It's A Shame About Ray. The biggest problem with Baby I'm Bored is that getting to the good stuff requires slogging through the initial four tracks, which progress from dull ("Repeat") to dopey ("Waking Up," an unsuccessful rewrite of Talking Heads' "Stay Up Late"). The reward: eight tracks of modest, charming comeback material. That's one for every year Dando's been off the scene (not counting a live album released only in Australia), plus one year to grow on. It may not sound like much, but for those who regard Dando as one of the most consistently underrated singer-songwriters around, it'll do for now.

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