Chris Daly has seen Akira 76 times.
Daniel Trudeau and I have something in common. While I cannot attest to whether or not he shares a similar fondness for uber-obscure, Asian, ninja-zombie movies, I do know that both of us recently fathered our first child. Not together or anything, but we’re both daddies now nonetheless. To celebrate, I went out and bought a bunch of Star Wars baby outfits. Trudeau opted to go a different route, taking the moniker Pregnant and putting out one of the catchier, experimental-leaning beat albums I’ve heard in a minute. Using his impending fatherhood as inspiration, DT crafted a resonating album of equal parts instrumental beats and bedroom, indie pop that has the ability to speak to a far wider audience than the diaper changing crowd.
As such, let’s not focus on the father thing if we can, and take Life Hard: I Try on different merits. The problem with emotionally complex, conceptual albums often manifests itself by coming across as too obtuse, making sense only to the artist and prison wardens. And let’s face it, you’ve either been in the whole Daddy situation or you haven’t, your time on Murray P. notwithstanding. So does this mother have a beat I can groove to or not?
While I mentioned that the CD leans towards the more experimental, I suppose it would be equally fair to simply qualify that this is not a particularly hip-hop album. These are soft jams interspersed with complex beats, the source material a mixture of live instrumentation and what I can only imagine are samples of a speed-fueled marching band. Taut percussion rubs against flute loops on one track, while elsewhere is a straight up, lo-fi guitar jam, and then it plunges into Asian beats that would do any rickshaw race in need of a soundtrack proud. While the accompanying press materials seemed to find similarity between Trudeau’s vocals and Neil Young, I’m more inclined to find an immediate affinity with the works of a younger Dan Snaith (no Manitoba).
To pigeonhole him into any one sound misses the point entirely, though he’s clearly not one to shy away from chasing his knocked up muse. What makes the music so enjoyable is Trudeau’s ability to balance the more experimental aspects of his music with a great ear for melody and song structure. I wouldn’t have normally thought harmonica and dolphin noises could sound quite so pleasant prior to Mr. T’s laid back presentation persuaded me otherwise. And as Daddys everywhere can tell you, while an open mind never hurts, it’s the blunted beats that are going to get you through the day.