Timber Timbre frontman Taylor Kirk has style, there’s no doubt about it. His rich croon carries a bit of Elvis Presley’s curly-lip sneer and touches of Nick Cave’s down-to-earth growl, and his dark retro-rock tunes are understated and slender; if David Lynch ever led a “Mad Men,” Kirk and his company could easily provide the sheet music. The latest from Timber Timbre, Creep On Creepin ‘On, is a dapper doo-wop and blues ensemble with a dark vibe, but with a style of its own.
Creep enabledThe stark, dark swing of is almost as distinctive as Kirk’s voice. With its emphasis on empty space and its penchant for acoustic instruments, there is a twisted proto-rock’n’roll feel, like the Everly Brothers if Susie had never woken up. There is also a grizzly-like balance between space and swivel parts, although Creep enabledthe tone of is much darker than that of Veckatimest. These songs blend and sway past the strings, and the saxophones (the latter from current sideman Colin Stetson) inevitably begin to swarm, sending bold streaks of color through the black and white filter of Kirk’s night creep.
Strange and surprising, these bursts of cacophony offer an improbable counterpoint to the stripped tunes of Timber Timbre. While they are meant to accentuate the desperation at the heart of these songs, the two sides clash as often as they complement each other, with the imposing and loud arrangements sometimes overpowering Kirk’s melodies. But when it all comes together, it’s mind-blowing; climax “Woman” begins with her honking, downgrades into an insistent croon, then ascends again to close, moving smoothly through her extremely disparate sounds. But an ardent ballad like “Lonesome Hunter” would have gone very well without the 30 seconds of orchestral madness which close it; The same goes for the din that ends “Do I Have Power” or the instrumental midsection coming out of nowhere from the “Bad Ritual” opener.
At their strongest, these dissonant explosions nearly oust Kirk from his own record; too bad, because his biased positions on the romantic obsession are a worthy focal point. While Timber Timbre is to be commended for trying to bring these disparate sounds together, they would fare better with fewer instrumental freakouts, leaving more room for Kirk’s twisted love stories gone awry. As elegant as Kirk’s songs may be, they are not always well suited by Creep enabledcontrasting patterns.