Homespun: This City of Takers

Going Along With the Delusions Will Not Be Helpful

May 26, 2010 at 4:00 am

This City of Takers starts off its debut CD with a shuffle and a bang, as if the Replacements covered "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Opening track "A Beautiful House With a Two Car Garage" is the first of seven tracks to focus on suburban ennui and a resulting crisis of faith (it's also the first of several sentence-length song titles). Singer/guitarist Brandon Lee is Delusions' focal point, thanks to passionate, if often unhinged, vocal performances. Like a less bellicose Greg Dulli, Lee is learning how to corral righteous rage into a soulful shout.

The seven songs (including the instrumental, cello-heavy "Interlude") are occasionally abrasive, but the center always holds together despite the sonic melee. Credit John May's drums, which are scattershot in places but usually manage to push the tension in the right direction. The forceful rhythms, coupled with Lee's Guy Picciotto-like sneer, suggest a loose-limbed Fugazi. The band is now a quartet after the departure of guitarist David Wise (who did contribute to Delusions), but Andy Phipps' synthesizers add an interesting element; they can serve as noise-generating devices or melodic counterpoints. Of the latter, Phipps shines with on "The Sense of Being Controlled by Outside Forces," whose burbling, muted synth tones resemble the subtly shifting harmonics found on Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. The disc, recorded and produced by RFT contributor Ryan Wasoba, is one of good proportions. The rhythm section provides melodic gunfire, the guitars and synths add alternately unsettling and ambient color, and Lee manages to strike a balance between the two forces.

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