Album: Dean Wareham – I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of LA review

by Lorenzo Righetto

Sweeping narratives and images of Californian sunshine bring emotional intensity and depth to the Galaxie 500 songwriter’s first record in seven years

Dean Wareham is one of those artist you feel a connection to – whether or not you have met or spoken to him at some point. And as such, one cannot but wonder how he spent these last two years. Well, obviously he wrote and recorded new songs, which is great, especially as seven years have passed since his last release. But, certainly, one would like to hear something more intimate about the person who wrote a song like Strange (‘Why’s everybody actin’ funny? Why’s everybody look so strange? Why’s everybody look so nasty? What do I want with all these things?’). I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of LA (what a great title!) is endearingly evasive on this topic, as it moves from somehow dry introspection (The Past Is Our Plaything) to sweeping narratives and images of Californian sunshine bliss (Robin & Richard), and even sarcastic blues-rock stomps (The Corridors Of Power).

Dean’s solo material is arguably his best since Galaxie 500 (sorry, Luna fans). It’s measured and elegant, with an admirable essentiality in songwriting which maybe has come with age (The Last Word, a chamber-pop crooning piece à-la The Apartments, comes close to some of his best songs). In this respect, I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor of LA is probably his most accomplished release. Definitely, his very appropriate partnership with Jason Quever from Papercuts has, for this album, a clear outcome in the freshness and deep texture of arrangements, which are at the same time gentle and iridescent. It is quite remarkable how they seem to flicker around Dean’s voice (Red Hollywood) and the chamber-rock ambience provides emotional intensity and depth to the songs (Why Are We In Vietnam?).

Indeed, there is sometimes something that reminds of other songs (As Much As It’s Worth, The Past Is Our Plaything), but Dean has developed the ability to turn those moments into songs like Cashing In, which are unquestionably his. This is also obvious in the two covers appearing on the album: Duchess, originally by Scott Walker, but actually more so on Under Sky by the more obscure Lazy Smoke, which is transformed into a bewildered, soaring progression. All of which makes I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of LA a perfect record in its own way.

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