Dumb Numbers – S/T

As Dumb Numbers project-brain Adam Harding puts it in the press release for this record, “All of my music grows out of [existing] friendships.” And I tell ya, when your “existing friendships” are with dudes like Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow, Dinosaur Jr’s Murph, the MelvinsDale Crover, and your boner-nightmare is David Lynch, they’re gonna make your music grow in more ways than one, that’s for sure. 

So how about you take a look at that list of names and then decide if you’re going to read the rest of this review. Because really, if you’ve got money in your pocket for a limited edition vinyl record (a random selection of which includes signed prints of David Lynch’s artwork, very savvy) and you like any of the above-listed names enough to drop cash on whatever they do next, you’re gonna buy this no matter what I say. On this point it bears mentioning that while the artist profile on record label Joyful Noise’s website goes so far as to hang a lampshade on how ripe the album is for a name-dropping circle jerk, it literally has not one word to say about what the music actually sounds like—though it does mention rather coyly that the album is “internally regarded as one of the crowning gems of our catalogue to date."

All that said, I don’t mean to hold Harding’s album in contempt for his illustrious entourage, and frankly he deserves a least a little attention for his actual talent apart from his apparently considerable street cred. The songs sound like Sebadoh on danker weed and fancier fuzz pedals, which is just as dirty and catchy as you would expect – or, most of the time it is, but Harding lacks Barlow’s facility with misery makes “The Broken Promise” into a dumb, plodding failure. The album’s second side is darker and more atmospheric than the first with some spooky feedback drones and the requisite JUG JUG JAAAAAAAHs, but for all its star power Dumb Numbers doesn’t leave much to remember itself by in the end. Shoulda listened to Mike Watt; smokin’ kills yer fuckin’ memory.