There’s an awful lot to be said about Charles Douglas’ latest release, Statecraft. Sonic Youth soundman Wharton Tiers produces and plays drums, and Joey Santiago of The Pixies plays lead guitar on scattered tracks. The album itself deviates a bit from Douglas’ usual material, as well – on this disc, he veers from the typical singer/songwriter approach, choosing to root the album in a haze of pop songs and Pavement-esque structures. The result is a surprisingly spry album that (remarkably) doesn’t seem tired or dragged out over its 16 songs.
If there’s a lot to be said about the album, then there’s twice as much to say about Douglas himself; a college dropout and recently reformed drug addict, Douglas was once known for wearing Burger King crowns on stage during his performances (the crowns were a by-product of employment Douglas has since lost). He wakes up playing Miles Davis, listens to something by Prince every day, yells unflattering things out car windows at Ryan Adams, and gives thanks that his drug abusing years didn’t turn him into an facsimile of ex-Pink Floyd frontman/nutjob Syd Barrett.
Despite the low-key atmosphere of Statecraft, the album has a remarkable sense of personality. Listening to songs like the grumbling “The Rabbit Never Gets the Carrot, Part Two,” the impeccably sweet “Ancient Mysteries,” and the pedal-steel and vibraphone-laced “Crackerjack” make it hard to believe he’s not a protégé of Stephen Malkmus; then again, barroom rocker “Free at Last” and the roughshod title track simmer in pools of Paul Westerberg-ian sentiment. Oddly enough, a few of the most fleshed out tracks (namely “The Day of Creation” and “Splitting the Atom”) harken back to Camper Van Beethoven.
All in all, Douglas’ latest musical output is an all-around entertaining affair. Statecraft effortlessly flows from solid pop songs and dreamily loping tracks to ragged rockers, and nothing on the disc stands out as forced or out-of-place. Best of all, there’s absolutely no filler here, which makes Statecraft a welcome addition to any lazy summer day playlist.