Ladyfinger (ne) - Dusk (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Ladyfinger (ne)

Dusk (2009)

Saddle Creek

I thought the last time Saddle Creek released a straightforward, big-hook rock album was in 2005 (Criteria's When We Break, which was quite good). I guess I'm wrong, though, as Ladyfinger (ne) released their debut in 2006, Heavy Hands, which I haven't heard. I say this because if their new album, Dusk, is any indication, Saddle Creek's pumping out a few more straightforward rockers than I'd thought. (Of course, if you consider Tokyo Police Club or Cursive, I guess there's an argument to be made for anything.)

Anyway, me and Ladyfinger are pretty on the fence after a few spins of Dusk. The band is uncovering a terrain here somewhere between alternative and indie rock that's musically meaty (made all the more apparent by producer Matt Bayles [Isis, Minus the Bear]), edgy and punchy enough, but the vocals... I don't know how I feel about them. He's got a unique singing voice, but it just doesn't seem to propel the songs to where they seem to want to go. It's the most logically modern adaptation of `70s classic rock howling possible, but still doesn't completely fit the picture. "Plains" is a pretty well-rounded affair, though, and things come together a bit more cohesively and sensibly there in a rare moment.

There's a few dissonant bits of Dischord-esque fiddling ("A.D.D") and plenty of well-laid guitar work in general (much of "Little Things"), but nothing that makes Ladyfinger too angular for anyone weaned on alternative radio. But are their melodies strong enough to help sustain an interest in a mostly direct, frank affair?

Unfortunately, nothing sticks enough to make that case. It's like Queens of the Stone Age drained of their catchy moments and intriguing stoner tendencies. Dusk is certainly listenable, but it's lacking the X factor bringing one back.

Little Things