The Xray Eyes – Composite Sketches

The Xray Eyes
Composite Sketches

Composite Sketches is one of those records that tries to weave poetic musing and alleged Americana together in an attempt to arrive at some sweet spot of authenticity and wisdom. As is often the case, what results is a stifling collection of impossible to remember tunes whose lyrics could contain either the Grand Unification Theory or plot summaries from Mork & Mindy for all it mattered, so deadly dull is the music.

The Xray Eyes are one David Lavin, a Seattle guitarist/songwriter who cobbled together some friends to record these eight songs, and the heart breaks to think of otherwise productive human beings sitting around in a cramped studio trying to put the best spin on these slightly folky, slightly jazzy, wholly lame songs. In a nutshell, David Lavin can neither write nor sing, though he does play a passable guitar.

Roll those X-ray eyes at me if you must, David, but woeful stabs at intimacy like the rudimentary Randy-Newman-with-a-lobotomy piano ballad “Stale Crumbs” fall flat, what with abstruse lines about “song birds…on budding limbs singing triplet gestalt” set to melodies that sound like someone dared you to invent them on the spot.

The interminable “Time to Retire” is as equally redolent of someone like celebrated folk-rock troubadour Richard Thompson, though again it would have to be a Richard Thompson waylaid by a number of various afflictions – zombie bite and scrapie among them. Sour vocals, middling guitar runs, and a flabby bottom end are the symptoms, CD Frisbee is the cure. Only the opener “Wish I Were Blind” displays any interest in a memorable hook, but that’s still only a step or two removed from rote rootsiness, sub-sub-Dylan storytelling that is the lesser of whichever earnest folkie that’s playing down the street from you this very moment.

Aside from the odd flashes of lyrical wit, Composite Sketches is as abysmal an album as I’ve heard in ages. I don’t think there’s any real chance of you coming into contact with it, nor of your peers trying to foist it upon you, so I’ll call off the verbal bombardment and just let the Xray Eyes sink back into the oblivion from whence they came.