Absentee : Donkey Stock

East London countryists’ lugubrious wonder

Absentee mainman Dan Michaelson sings like a man with no teeth, no lungs, and no self-esteem. He sings like a tick-addled, broken-hearted, liquor-stained, malformed, mucus-smeared loser. Spare your pity though, reader, because Michaelson’s grumbled, world-weary mumble is the most wondrous sound to trickle out of a human being’s voicebox all year.

Over six country-tinged tales of hanging around in lavatories ( ‘In The Toilets Again’), matrimonial murder ( ‘My Dead Wife’) and pee wee sex ( ‘Heather’s Golden Shower’), Michaelson’s breathy yawn makes each hair on the back of NME’s neck shiver like leaves in the wind. It’s an instrument that recalls the hushed slur of indie pop pervert Bill Callahan (aka Smog), or the gnarled drawl of Tom Waits. Lofty company indeed, but here’s the deal-breaker: Absentee have songs better than either of their mope-rock peers have written in years, being friends with The Magic Numbers.

Hail the new kings of mumblecore!

James Jam