Daniel Francis Doyle is probably one of the most interesting artists I’ve ran across in a long time, but I’m not totally sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for my ears. Doyle himself is a character. He still toils in the underground, touring as a one-man band who frantically runs from instrument to instrument looping and screaming/singing into a Britney Spears-style headset microphone.
We Bet Our Money On You is Doyle’s third album, following his debut Sing Blues in E, and his second album Who Are Your Customers? With this newest album, Doyle is starting to develop a following outside of his hometown (or at least base of operations) of Austin, Texas. Pulling in just around 33 minutes, We Bet Our Money On You lies somewhere between incoherent noise and beautiful melody; but ends before you can decide.
We Bet Our Money On You starts out with a triad shotgun blast of songs. “Old Lives” begins the album, starting with what may be spoons banging on pipes, before launching into an assault off interlaced melodic guitars with an emotional explosion of drums and vocals. Doyle’s vocals walk the line between singing and screaming, only producing a few coherent lines but plenty of context for whatever they’re saying.
“Street Stress” follows with Doyle repeatedly singing ‘You’re talking, you’re talking, you’re talking…through your teeth’ as whatever was being held as music stumbles over itself and slowly dissipates into just plain noise. After this, Doyle follows with a sound much like “Old Lives” with guitars providing fragments of beauty while the drums and vocals crunch down to produce the noise that he’s looking for. “Fighter’s Son” ends the trio’s beginning blast with same format, except this time with a baroque plucking and the best vocals of the bunch. He sings comprehensibly, and screams at the perfect times.
After experiencing this open assault of music, Doyle brings down the mood with “Send You Away” and “Learning Things At School.” The songs are slow and chill, even included swindling strings on “Send You Away” and overarching melodies on “Learning Things at School." The latter of which is surprisingly reminiscent of Vampire Weekend. After the break in assault, We Bet Our Money On You hits us with a horror film overture beginning “Your Cursive,” before ascending to a merging of both sides of the album so far – noise rock and lo-fi ballad. Oddly enough and perhaps ironically, “Your Cursive” rings of Domestica-era Cursive, and Doyle sounds strikingly like Kashner, both in regards to vocals as well as guitar work. This Domestica-era Cursive feel continues into the next song, “How Can You Work?” Beginning with one of the most beautiful melodies on the record, Doyle takes what could have been a Domestica B-Side and merges it with his distinctive noise sound, jumbling melodies and adding time breaks and backward guitar effects, even ending the song with what sounds like a record skipping on a guitar.
Now entering the twilight of the album, Doyle hits with something that no one sees coming – a piano-ballad. Returning to the lo-fi ballad sound of “Send You Away,” Doyle steps it up a notch and provides emotional lyrics and piano to boot. Doyle pleads to the unseen heroine, "You don’t have to take your own life.." and swoons her with a self-provided back up ‘ahhs’ and all. Though his singing is slightly off-key, it only adds to the lo-fi appeal of the song, as you can even hear chairs creaking in the background as he does it.
Of course, ending on a sentimental note is no way to end the album, so Doyle returns to his shotgun blast sound with “Always Calm,” but unfortunately doesn’t reach the intensity of the opening tracks. It once again ends up being a merge of melody and noise, ending the record on a balancing note of sorts, with the song only hinging on the melody it provides as it slowly falls apart, even off-beat the record falls into it’s final record skip.
Overall, We Bet Our Money On You can best be described as a newspaper of melody and beauty, which was cut apart in a paper shredder and donated to your child’s kindergarten class who used it for an art activity, and your child ending up making something that looked like abstract art, so you put it on eBay and made a fair amount of money when some guy who collects Andy Warhol paintings in Nova Scotia bought it. You never really see what Doyle is trying to say, but you know it's something, and you know that that something is going to be worth a lot to someone. We Bet Our Money On You is a tour de force of originality, in every sense of the word. Doyle takes the listener on a journey to places they’ve never been, and all that really matters is whether or not you want to go on the ride.
"We Bet Our Money On You" is on sale June 9, 2009 from We Shot JR.