Jimmy Tamborello pulls an interesting move at the beginning of Dumb Luck, the latest album under his Dntel moniker: He gives himself the best song on the album. It’s the title track, and Tamborello sings it himself (whereas all the tracks that follow feature guest vocalists). A coy admonishment to himself to not get a big head after the popularity explosion of his most famous group, the Postal Service, “Dumb Luck” burbles and blips as Tamborello’s charming voice rolls along before coming to a nice Spiritualized-size closing.
Not that there aren’t other standouts on the album. Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear channels late Beatles-era George Harrison on “To a Fault.” Mia Doi Todd adds sultry vocals to “Rock My Boat.” And Conor Oberst puts some of his signature self-deprecating couplets over the wheeze and whine of “Breakfast in Bed.”
There’s nary a misstep in other tracks that feature members of Lali Puna, Fog, Mystic Chords of Memory, and Arthur and Yu. It’s painfully clear that the music and words on “Roll On,” featuring Jenny Lewis, were written completely separate from each other; Lewis spills verbal overkill on Tamborello’s music. Aside from this one unstructured, unwieldy track, Dumb Luck proves highly smart and skilled.