When I was ten years old, I wrote a book. No, wait, it wasn’t a book; it was fifty-plus single-spaced pages of a ten-year-old’s stream-of-conscious babble. Which is to say that no matter how old you are, you should have the decency to self-edit. That said, even the best fall victim to excess. The Clash made one of history’s most noted double-albums in London Calling but went overboard on the triple-album follow-up Sandinista! Though Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death is often remembered as the last album he made during his lifetime, one disc versus two could have made it a classic on par with his debut. Radiohead showed a measure of restraint by breaking up Ok Computer‘s follow-up into two separate releases, Kid A and Amnesiac, but both records could have trimmed a few pounds. Artists come close to being exempt from this rule, lest editing become a restriction on self-expression, but everyone should learn to recognize when something plain stinks.
Which makes Paul Fugazzotto II’s excessive Ponieheart/Crane Orchard double-disc album so frustrating. The singer-songwriter uses the respective identities to perform, essentially, solo and group work. As such, Ponieheart tends to be quieter and sparser than Crane Orchard. Which is fine, except that Fugazzotto’s writing is unexceptional, his voice leaves much to be desired, and his performance chops could use refinement. All these qualities hardly need to be heard at all, let alone over the course of roughly two hours. Touch to Heart‘s minimal arrangements make this point especially clear as Fugazzotto’s mediocre falsetto and inadequate technique are bared completely. Spread Your Lies Wholeheartedly is slightly more engaging, because fuller arrangements give the listener something else to fixate on. But even this added touch tends to be heavy-handed and obvious — sampling a respirator should make you feel, I don’t know, happy? As much as I feel music criticism should move away from celebration and more toward embracement, there is such a thing as too much, too soon.