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Charley Jamison has been playing music for a long time without much widespread acclaim, a fact he tackles head-on on LandSpeedRecord!'s new Unfailurelessness. "The deaf want to know what I've been doing with my life," the guitarist sings on the urgent, nervy indie-rock exemplar "The Deaf Want to Know." "How could I have worked so hard on nothing?" But that's not to say that he and the current iteration of LSR!, hard-working fellow local indie vets to a man, don't come through with admirable and active musical resistance to disappointment--or at least a few good swipes back at it.
The title/title track grapples with the unifying concept, which is the opposite of a Pyrrhic victory--or something like that. Over drummer Marc Berrong and bassist Thomas Stehr's clockwork pound, Jamison sings "Well, I guess I didn't fail, but I didn't succeed" in his anxious tenor. The theme of futility/stasis also winds around the harmony vocals and discrete keys of the mid-tempo "The Ouroborus," which is the name for the symbol of a snake eating its tail (always a brainy, wordy lyricist, Jamison is the rare songwriter capable of using a term such as "peristalsis" and making it work). On album highlight "Today Is the Day," Jamison bellows, "So how many times can I wake up and say/ 'Today's the day that I start my life over again?'" with convincing passion as guitarist Ron Spencer helps him torture some strings.
LSR!'s musical attack is straightforward and direct almost to a fault. There are melodies and hooks aplenty, and subtle accents such as the organ burbles on "Today Is the Day," and none of these tunes hobbles by, though some do tend to blur together. That said, it's tough not to admire Unfailurelessness' obstinate quality, in both senses of the phrase.