Denver Dalley may establish himself apart from his reputation as “that other dude in Desaparecidos” with his newest record under the Statistics moniker, Often Lie. And if he does, good for him. After all, his “real” band isn’t exactly like his Oberst-fronted side project. It’s a little crisper, not as warbly and more singles-oriented. That doesn’t, however, mean it’s any better.
On Dalley’s debut as Statistics, Leave Your Name, the shadow of Saddle Creek wasn’t far behind, but neither was that of MOR emo bands like Jimmy Eat World or Onelinedrawing. On Often Lie, not much has changed. Dalley still sounds earnest and heartfelt, to a fault, in fact. I thought the infamous “emo” genre was dead; silly me. Nonetheless, it should be, and Statistics isn’t doing much to further its cause.
Statistics aren’t necessarily terrible, really. I can’t even say they aren’t pleasant. Dalley’s voice isn’t anywhere near as whiny as it could be. But gosh darn it, we’ve heard this before. Statistics really don’t do much to rid the genre of its bad reputation, but don’t necessarily reach the artistic nadirs of Victory Records signings such as Straylight Run or Hawthorne Hights, now playing on an MTV2 commercial near you. No, Statistics plays it pretty straight, opting for more MOR emo pop and very little in the way of memorable songwriting. It’s somewhat catchy, sure. And, well, it’s pretty harmless. And maybe that’s what the problem is.
All the distortion in the world can’t make an album “edgy,” which Statistics clearly makes evident on Often Lie. Dalley merely sounds sincere and innocent, in a bored, “how long do I have to do this?” kind of way, while big guitars crash in the background, emitting a façade of manufactured-ness. The lyrics, however, put the nail in the coffin, pedestrian to the point of high school yearbook quotes. Some examples:
I’m playing all the songs from the bands that I love
because no one ever calls in
or how about:
your hands hold each other so tight
they break to push the hair away from your eyes
or this little gem:
from our cell phones we shout
And I can’t help but think this album would be made infinitely better by putting somebody else up front, one who writes better lyrics. This is why Conor Oberst, precious and obnoxious as he is, is far more revered. And I don’t even like Desaparecidos! A warning for those looking under the AllMusic profile for Statistics: They sound nothing like The Notwist, Grandaddy, The Postal Service, Boards of Canada (wtf?), Giant Sand (wtf-again?) or The Starlight Mints.
Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
Desaparecidos – Read Music Speak Spanish
Gratitude – Gratitude
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.