The Deathray Davies – Midnight at the Black Polish Factory

The Deathray Davies
Midnight at the Black Polish Factory

Without having heard their previous efforts, it’s more than a little assuming to make comments about how this is The Deathray Davies’ real breakthrough album; however, it’s simply impossible to think that a still mostly unknown band already has three albums out that are all as good as this one. Midnight at the Black Nail Polish Factory exudes the kind of confidence that comes with a clear artistic vision being realized by a group of committed individuals performing together as a single body. To be more concise and to the point . . . a really good album by a really good band. No soaring vocal spots, screaming guitar solos, or overdone computer effects; instead what shines through are the songs, the feel, and perhaps the most important for this particular record, the personality of the band itself. A famous Salinger character once said that the calling card for a really good book was that when you were finished with it you were left really wanting to meet the author. Midnight at the Black Polish Factory feels like just such a “book.” Not that the songs are over revealing or self-referential, but they’re unpretentious and frank enough to feel important and yet unique and mysterious enough to make one keep playing it again and again to get the answers.
The third song, “I Was that Masked Man,” has an undeniable Who influence with its big, anthemic guitar line dressed to kill in the spotlight of an army of cymbals, cut with a horn arrangement perfect and plain enough to compare to something off Neutral Milk Hotel’s Aeroplane Over the Sea. It rules. Later, on “Dominique,” an acoustic (ahem?) ballad that lifts it’s main progression from Dylan’s “You Aint Going Nowhere” reveals the group’s slightly more tender tendencies. The liner notes reveal that the song was “originally written for Jay to wooo his wife.” Not that the Davies are sensitive ponytail types. The next song churns with a Sonic Youth / Pixies-style riff fueled by some of the most furious tambourine playing ever recorded by man. There are also a few instrumentals (part of a vague four part theme about a girl who can stare longer than statues are able to) (weird, yes, but cool) that share a kinship Black Heart Procession’s brand of ambience. There’s even a pop-punk song about gambling.
Throughout the record, the band instrumentally throws everything at you but the mixing board, providing a lush yet appropriately not overdone background for the lead singer’s less whiney Elliot Smith appeal. The effect is most apparent on the beautiful title track that appears at the end of the album.
All these references and comparisons to other artists are not meant to make the band out to be derivative in any way. In fact, they are a band hard to qualify as a result of their having such a rich individuality. And if this isn’t their “break though” album as a band, lookout that the next one doesn’t cause a minor riot in Dallas.