Music Reviews
Baby I'm Bored

Evan Dando Baby I'm Bored

(Setanta) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

You know the feeling you have after coming out of a week-long bout of the flu? You feel better than before you were sick. So imagine a full recovery after a drawn-out dance of death with drugs, alcohol and hedonism, comprising a long musical career and more than a casual flirtation with celebrity, culminating in an almost seven-year hiatus, and you might just get how Evan Dando is feeling these days.

The result is Baby I'm Bored, a reflective daydream of country-tinged indie pop, the music of a man who has emerged from the booze-induced twilight still smiling. He is at peace with himself and his music is all the better for it.

Now, normally one wouldn't be interested in hearing it from some presumably washed-up Californian muso who has gone sober and seen the light. After all Dando, with his band the Lemonheads, was always strongly associated with Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Cobain, of course, chose to 'burn out' rather than 'fade away', which is what the world thought had happened to poor handsome Dando. But, as we die-hard Lemonheads fans have been saying all along, fear not. The best thing about him is that he always liked having fun too much. Rather than whingeing and shooting his brains out, Dando just smiled goofily and took more drugs.

"I can't believe how far I slid/ But secretly I'm glad I did", he confesses softly on The Same Thing You Thought Hard About Is The Same Part I Can Live Without. But this is no plaintive demand for sympathy or understanding, because Dando just isn't the self-pitying type. Nor is it an apology for having been away so long. And this album works precisely because there is nothing disingenuous about Dando's attitude towards his long tumble down the slippery slope of decadence. Ever the patron saint of mellow lo-fi, he muses quietly, half to himself and half to us, that he is still standing.

And of course, no disservice has been done to the ironic and self-reflective sense of humour, which shines through in the fact that two of the songs on this record were written by long-time admirer Ben Lee. The same veteran Aussie teen-rocker who, as frontman of the band Noise Addict back in the mid-nineties, famously wrote an ode to Dando entitled I Wish I Was Him. These tracks, Hard Drive and All My Life are, paradoxically, the most characteristic of Dando's style, born of sincere admiration and deft emulation on Lee's part.

Still, among the warm, sun-soaked melodies, there are elements of regret, such as the rather telling Why Do You Do This To Yourself? You'd expect that from a musician whose been living under the grunge label for so long, when really he just wanted to sit in the grass with his guitar and go country. And here, although the thrilling, thrashing debauchery-fuelled antics have been left behind in another decade, elements of the dissolute remain, enough to render this record quintessential Lemonheads.

But maybe that's the most heartening surprise of all: the fact that Dando has emerged from the post-grunge chaos with his vocal chords and songwriting skills intact is nothing short of a miracle. Or at least a sunbeam when you were expecting nothing but grey clouds.