Hailing from the modern-day Seattle that is Omaha, Neb., Statistics comes to us courtesy of Denver Dalley. You may know Dalley as the founder of everyone’s favorite political pop band Desaparecidos, though probably not–the focus there is usually on that other guy, the one with the anime eyes and “Next Bob Dylan” tag. But with Statistics, Dalley has stepped out from the shadow of that Connor kid and created a 5-song EP that showcases his considerable songwriting talent.
Apparently, Statistics stems from the frustration Dalley felt within the confines of a band structure. Consequently, Statistics showcases what is, in essence, a one-man band (though three of the songs feature the drumming skills of another Connor Oberst collaborator, Mike Sweeney).
This self-titled offering is kind of like a little kid in the winter: all layered up, tight at the seams and surprisingly thick. It works for little kids because they’re cute enough to pull off just about anything. It works for Dalley because he has a great ear for this kind of stuff. At the center of the whole thing (where the kid would be if you stripped it all down) is a foundation of spacey synth work that is the heart of the record. Over the top of this instrumentation, Dalley shows a good deal of versatility, featuring jangly guitars and stilted vocals on “Cure Me,” the airy and reflective closing track, as well as a solid helping of thick guitar and big riffs (ala Desaparecidos) in the synth-pop winner “Hours Seemed Like Days.”
The electronic groundwork holds the album together, although at times the cohesion is a little questionable. Dalley isn’t afraid to experiment: looping tracks, throwing in some reverb, and even tossing around some almost R&B-sounding beats. Two of the tracks, “(A Memory)” and “(A Flashback),” are well orchestrated instrumentals, acting almost as interludes between the more traditional songs on the album.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite flow like that. It’s not that Dalley is disjointed. The material is exciting and focused, just not by the bounds of some song-writing formula that makes for wonderfully “cohesive” yet horribly boring albums (see: recent Weezer material). But on a tantalizingly brief 5-song EP, it is somewhat easy to fall out of the flow. The tempo and mood changes drastically from track to track, and consequently each song stands alone while elements of the music and lyrics that deal with notions of time and memory make it appear as though Dalley was striving for a more unified work.
Regardless, all indications are that Dalley will be embracing his newfound control and focusing all of his creative talent and efforts on Statistics: a full length is due in late 2003/early 2004 and the band is expected to tour extensively in support of both these releases. With this in mind, this EP serves as a fleeting promise that good things are in store when Dalley gets the opportunity to stretch his ideas out on a longer release.